Thursday, November 1, 2012

My D.C. Marathon

Capitol
I knew before I left for D.C. that there was a Hurricane on the way. Luckily, I was able to get into town and spend 3 days before the race exploring the sights before the "Super Storm" came in.

We had warnings that we could be running in heavy cold rains and winds, so like most I prepared for the worst, I packed extra garbage bags to run in if needed. But no matter how you looked at it, we were going to be running in a Hurricane that day. Not going to lie, I thought that little fact was kinda cool, guess it's the adventure junkie side of me:) However, This is more of an after note: I have to say I couldn't have picked more fantastic running conditions, the rains and heavy winds held off and the cooler temps and cloud cover was absolutely perfect. Honestly, I don't think you can get much better running conditions!

WWII Memorial
 My leg injury, although it is doing MUCH better isn't exactly healed. But it's allowing me to run right now. The downside about injuries, sometimes one can bring on another. This is my case, and the day before the marathon I felt like my inner thigh pulled something that stretched all the way down and across the entire back of my knee. It was so inflamed that I could hardly bend it the day before. (I am sure all the sight seeing and walking around I had been doing wasn't exactly helping it much.) But decided I was going to try anyway. After all, I have been looking forward to this 26.2 since last spring when I was one of the lucky 30K runners who got into the race that hit records by selling out in a little over 2 1/2 hours.

Library of Congress
Race morning I woke up a little before 4am, got ready and let my dad walk me to the Metro Station. Got off at the Pentagon and like the rest of the runners took a bit of a walk, I almost want to say a mile to the Runners Village. The weather was perfect, there was a light mist of rain when I first arrived, but then it ended. A little breezy, but honestly not bad! FUNNY to NOTE: This was the first marathon that I had to have a light pat down from a cute Marine to get into the Village.

Waited around until it was time to walk to the starting line, (about a 10 minute walk) and then we really got packed into the corrals, you couldn't get in or out if you wanted too. So of course naturally with no where to go, my bladder decided to choose then to want a bathroom. I figured it was just nerves and decided to forget about it. LOL - FYI, It took me almost 10 miles before I was mostly able to forget... I was just not in the mood to stop at a port-o-potty at the mile markers and wait in line, even though I might have enjoyed the race slightly more if I had LOL LOL:)

Korean War Memorial
Military choppers flew overhead and a cannon went off to signal the race start. It took my corral over twenty minutes to get up to the start line. Most all of the hills were at the beginning. My original Pulled Hip Flexor started acting up a little on all of the uphill especially on a larger hill after mile 2 and again at mile 7 hill, so naturally the pain in the back of my knee was a little bothersome on the downhill. But I just placed careful footing and did what I needed to do to get through the hills without making the injuries worse.
By mile 5, I had a feeling that if I was careful I was going to be able to finish this race, and the injuries wouldn't keep me from it (I think this is where having very strong quads has been helpful for me!). I could almost sense it as they warmed up and how they were acting (sounds weird I know, but runners know their bodies!)

View of D.C.
 The course was beautiful. Eventually we crossed a bridge and ran along side the Potomac River. The fall leaves were beautiful they were falling onto us, I remember having several big yellow leaves land on my head as I went. After the Georgetown Reservoir we ran though kind of like a canyon. Tree's and fall leaves EVERYWHERE and if you looked off the side of the road you could see a smaller river below. So pretty!
Eventually we were back next to the huge Potomac River again and we more or less followed along side until we arrived in D.C. right behind the Lincoln Memorial. Lots of crowds were out in this area too.

Every single water and aid station was lined on both sides of the street with Marines. Other groups on the course were military family members, and I believe military students in the area wearing yellow t-shirts. The Marines were awesome, they cheered loud, gave lots and lots of High Five's, Congratulated you every chance they could doing anything runners needed to help them on their way. It was really an amazing experience to be running through D.C. with many sections lined with Military cheering you on.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - Changing of the Guards
 We entered an area Potomac Park just passed the Jefferson Memorial, the street was lined with posters with a different "fallen hero" with their picture, name, military branch and year they "gave their all". Just past the mile or so of that section, was another section where military and military family members were holding large American Flags on poles and lined the street for us to run through.

 We came up again along the river and ran around the large Tidal Basin (lake). Then the War Memorials and reflecting pool to our left, we ran up around the Washington Monument to run straight down the "mall" area passed all of the Smithsonian Buildings toward the Nations Capitol, ran in front of the capitol and then back up on a different street (again Mall area"). It was fun to pass all of the "Historic Sights"!

Painting in to of the Rotunda in Capitol
Finally back up to the tall Washington Monument, where we made a left to the area the runners call "Beat the Bridge", just means if you get passed this section (Mile 20) before 1pm, you are allowed to finish, any who don't are pulled from the course. I wasn't too worried about beating the bridge, even though I am not a super fast runner. I did push it a little more earlier on, but even when I got there I still had an hour to spare.

The only problem with hitting this point, was some runners (Okay, A Lot!) had been so focused on hitting this point that after they did, they knew they would be allowed to finish no matter what and literally MANY just stopped and started walking. Okay, I get that some people need to take a walking break, I am not afraid to admit that I have done it myself many times. But this was ridiculous! It was like a wall of runners, hundreds stopped running and started to walk at once. Even at mile 20, I was still feeling semi good, I wasn't in the mood to walk. So I figured I would run around them. Even though I hate doing that, (it can add a lot more distance to your race.) I dodged and ran in and out of runners for 2 miles, I looked at my GPS when I hit mile 22 and noticed that in 2 miles I had just added almost a half mile more to my race. (YIKES)

White House
 So I had no choice, I was getting tired and running around all the groups of walkers was killing me, so I was forced to walk behind them, and when an opening would come up I would run through them. Others were thinking along the same as me, eventually there was a group of us who preferred running so we ran in a line and picked our path. Still added a bit more distance to my time, but oh well you don't run a race like this to get a great time!

 We passed The Pentagon (huge building, I was shocked at how big it was) and passed several sections of Arlington Cemetery. Crystal City, was AWESOME they had so much music pumping though speakers and vibrating off the buildings, it was like a city party. Mile 23 the Marines handed out Dunkin Donuts. I was surprised at how fabulous they tasted to me. By mile 20 I was drinking lots more Gatorade (Usually avoid drinking it, most races can't mix the drink properly. But wished I had tried it earlier, the Marines had made sure it was mixed correctly!) Now Eating oranges and any hard candy (suckers) that were passed to me. I normally don't get this way, but just a little sweetness was great to me at this point!!!

Arlington Cemetery
 The last .2 of the course is up a very steep uphill. I think I would even say VERY STEEP even if it wasn't the last .2 of the course. Even forced me to run on my tip toes to get up it. Granted that was before the group in front of me stopped running and walked up part (I was beyond ticked at them, I wanted to get it over with!) With no where to go around them in this small section, I was forced to wait for an opening myself before I could start running up the last .1 of the hill. We finish at the Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington. 

Now when you finish the Marine Corps Marathon. Marines line the finish line to shake your hand. Then after a short way past dozens of Marines, one will shake your hand saying "Job well done, congratulations" and then put your medal around your neck and Salute you. I am not military so I have never been saluted to before, as far as in RESPECT. It was a pretty unique experience!

Lincoln Memorial
The Marines put on a great race, its a little more emotional (if you allow the thoughts to resonate) here we were running 26.2 miles through the Nations Capitol, Supported by the troops and Military who have been out on likely 3+ tours in Iraq or Afghanistan themselves, and when you finish they Salute YOU. When in reality THEY like all of the other current and past military are the ones who do the most for us to keep our country safe and free!

After you finish, you still have a few more hills to climb, a lot, and a lot more walking to do just to get out of the finish area. Once you are out of the finish area, you get the pleasure of even more walking:)  Once you do find the Metro, you get the discouraging news that the line to get into it is LONG, too long!
I started to find the end, again walking up 2 more hills around 2 blocks, yes the line was that freakishly LONG. Eventually I found the end and then, or course I get the pleasure of slowly waiting and walking back down to the Metro to get in. Finally I made it in, and took my seat (yes, I lucked out and wasn't forced to stand) on the subway and chatted it up with some great people from PA, before I got off and was able to have the pleasure of another 1/2 mile walk back to my hotel.

Statues at Vietnam Memorial
I estimated my 26.2 day, turned into a reality of 32-33+ that day. Huge races like this, I should have known equal LOTS more walking to get around. Not to mention time, it took me over 2 1/2 hours after I finished running the race just to get on the Metro to finally get off my feet! When you run these BIG races (MCM is the 4th largest in the country) you just have to plan on an all day event. (well unless you are a sub 3 hour runner, which I am not.) So I woke at 4am, and finally arrived back at my hotel by about 4pm. 12 hour process, but on the plus side that was much shorter than last year when I did NYC and it was 14+ hours:)

 I LOVED D.C. it was AMAZING! With the arrival of the hurricane and the city shutting down Sunday night, I didn't get to see everything I had hoped. But guess that just means I will just have to go back someday! It's even a race I would love to run again! I feel for those who had it worse than I did in the Hurricane, many apparently had ruined homes and severe flooding... My hotel was up on a bit of a hill and we didn't have any flooding, and I just have to say staying at the Embassy Suites is a GREAT choice. They have a free cook to order breakfast (you can pretty much get anything you want to eat) and the rest of the day it's an Italian restaurant. So obviously we weren't going to starve a bit during the storm.

Library of Congress
Of course, I had to go out in it Monday and take pictures so I could say I was out in the middle of a hurricane:) This race was amazing and very well organized!


 Clearly this is a long blog post, but trust me if I went into ALL the awesome details it would be twice as long:) Once the airports were opened again I was able to get out on one of Delta's first flights (they were the only airline flying, they are great!) Now I have 2 days to rest, do laundry, rest again and packed and fly out to my next marathon this weekend. As I am attempting to do 3 marathons in 3 weeks, we'll see what happens with that:)
Nations Capitol

4 comments :

  1. Great job on your marathon! It sounds like you had a pretty great race. I would imagine this was a beautiful course to run.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, it really was beautiful! MCM really does put on a great race!

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  2. It's a nice bridal planning blog sites for have a wonderful photos. Really that look simply superb.

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  3. I noticed that they are different than the other recaps I have read, you have more pictures of actual monuments that mean more to the DC area, than pics of the race itself, very beautiful, thanks for sharing.

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