I have some thoughts on sharing goals for races that I’ll address in a post soon, but before I write this re-cap I do want to share that I had some very loose goals going into this race (although, being that I ran another marathon just 2 weeks earlier I realize finishing this race was a good goal in itself!).
So, here were my goals for the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon:
A) Marathon PR (under 4:20:51) – I had just PR’d the marathon 2 weeks earlier in Hartford, so this was an ambitious goal, but if I had a good run and the crowd support carried me it was possible.
B) Beat Oprah (under 4:29:15) – since Oprah ran the Marine Corps Marathon in the 90’s it’s been many MCM runner’s goal to “Beat Oprah”!
C) Beat my 2013 Marine Corps Marathon Time (4:35) – still a bit of an ambitious goal coming off of a marathon 2 weeks earlier, it would all depend on how my legs handled running a second marathon in 2 weeks!
Now that we got that settled, time to run!
On race morning I got out of bed around 5am and began to get ready to meet Christine. I showered, dressed, taped my knees, had a coffee and some oatmeal and headed out of the room around 6am to meet her at the Rosslyn Metro station.
My hotel location was perfect, I didn’t need to take any transportation on race day (unlike my epic morning of public transportation on race morning at NYCM!), I was able to walk right over to charity hill pre-race and then back to my hotel after the finish!
I was happy to be able to take advantage of my charity tent and private porta-potty section pre-race, especially when it started raining!
Luckily Christine and I had done plenty of weather stalking and were well prepared with ponchos and trash bags. We wrapped ourselves up and at about 7am began to make our way from the charity tents to the start. (We didn’t even have to go to bag check since we could leave bags at our charity tent – a huge plus!)
Since coming from charity village we actually approached the start area from the in front of the starting line and then had to walk back into the corrals, Christine and I were careful to walk AROUND the starting arches, and not through them – that just seemed like all sorts of bad luck to walk over the starting line BEFORE the race!
We made a quick porta-potty trip (or two!), listened to the anthem and watched the American flag parachute in…
…there was even as Osprey flyover (sorry, missed the pic b/c I was in a porta-potty line!). The start to this race is always incredible.
Christine and I were waiting in the corral area and I said to her that I don’t particularly like the loud howitzer they use at the start since I’m sort of sensitive to loud noises, she agreed and we waited bracing ourselves for the noise…
…then we were moving forward. And suddenly we were at the starting line! I looked at Christine and I’m pretty sure I actually said, “wait, are we starting?!?”
Somehow we totally missed the howitzer (did anyone else there hear it?!?) and were starting the race!
Miles 1-3 through Rosslyn are pretty much one big long hill (don’t believe anyone who tells you MCM is flat!). The rain was coming down but the spectators were out in full force! We began to find our pace and move along comfortably and around mile 1 we saw our group of spectators – Jason, Christine’s parents and her husband Adam!
I was able to quickly toss my light rain jacket I had started with to Jason and off we went!
As we crossed the Key Bridge into Georgetown just past mile 4 I remember saying to Christine, “this is AMAZING!”. The crowd support was overwhelming and at this moment more than any other during the race I was so thankful to not only be there, but to have the ability to run.
We saw our families as we headed out onto Rock Creek Park (which wasn’t as crowded as I remembered from 2013!) and then again when we returned. For some reason I vividly remember this being the rainiest part of the race, but since it was warmer than I would have liked it actually felt pretty good!
We headed towards Haines Point and the “Run to Remember” mile which is always emotional. This whole section is lined with pictures of servicemen and women killed in action…
…and then followed by a long stretch of people holding flags, each with a name hanging off of it. I actually specifically remember this section being very quiet last time I ran it, almost like a memorial, but this time all of the people holding the flags were yelling and cheering, it was actually one of the most uplifting parts of the course which was amazing! All I remember thinking was, “these people have all lost someone they loved and they’re out here holding a flag in their honor and cheering for US! How amazing is that!”
Christine and I crossed the halfway mark at 2:08, faster than I had planned, but I was feeling pretty good at this point!
It was a little crowded on this out and back area and I knew that Christine wasn’t beside me, but I thought she was right behind me, I hadn’t realized that she was starting to hurt around mile 14 and was a bit behind me – when I stopped for a walk break I moved over to the side and realized she wasn’t right there. From a bit behind me she waved and told me to “go ahead”, so I did.
Please don’t think I am a terrible person! This is the deal that Christine and I have always had for this race, neither of us wants to hold the other back, so it’s always been if you feel good, go for it…
…unfortunately “good” only lasted another few miles.
At mile 17 I passed by the Washington Monument and saw Jason again (he handed me some potato chips!) and then ran by the Capitol at 18. I think this was where I took my first unscheduled walk break.
I immediately wished I was still with Christine, I knew these last 8 miles were going to be a struggle and the company would have been nice.
I passed Jason one last time before I “Beat the Bridge” at mile 20 and while I was excited to get to this milestone in the marathon, my least favorite miles of this course were ahead and my legs were giving up.
The last 6 miles were a battle for me. I ran. I walked. I tried to think positive thoughts. I tried to think about the charity I was running for. I tried to remember to be thankful that I had the ability to run.
But my legs kept reminding me that I had run another marathon just 2 weeks earlier and that they had had enough.
I had asked a lot of my body and the fact that it carried me though mile 20 of a second marathon feeling pretty good was something to be proud of. Now to get to the finish line.
I ran, I walked, I was miserable through Crystal City. I passed by Christine on the out and back portion and was glad to see she was looking good (although I guess she just put on a big smile because apparently she was hurting quite a bit!). I actually tried to do some mental math and figure out how far behind me she was and contemplated just moving to the side of the course and waiting for her to catch up so I wouldn’t be alone any more, but I kept moving.
I ate a munchkin at the munchkin stop – because why not?! – and kept moving.
There was a lot of walking those last 2 miles, but my quads felt like jello with each step and my back was really hurting me.
I finally saw the mile 26 marker and turned towards that final hill. I tried to run up it, I wanted so badly to finish strong, but with the first few steps up the hill my legs felt like they were going to collapse.
Then I saw Jason and Christine’s mom Pam yelling and cheering me on to keep going and I tried again to run. I took about 10 steps and my quads and back hurt so much it brought tears to my eyes. So I let the hill win and I walked.
There were Marines on the hill cheering and yelling to keep going that we were almost there and honestly it crushed me to be walking by them. I hate that I let that damn hill win.
I crossed the finish line in 4:27:12, just under 7 minutes slower than my PR marathon two weeks earlier in Hartford.
After crossing the finish line I got my medal and snacks and headed back to my charity tent to meet up with Jason.
Another great perk of my charity team was our own post-race massage therapists and let me tell you, if my legs EVER needed an immediate post-race massage it was NOW.
I met up with Christine and we hugged, we briefly filled each other in on the rest of our race and we commented on how we couldn’t believe it was over already!
I have a lot of thoughts on my actual run that I’ll write about in another post, but I beat Oprah. I beat my 2013 Marine Corps Marathon time. Overall I’m proud of making it through 2 marathons in 2 weeks in times that are both faster than my previous marathon PR and I’m proud of the money that I raised for a wonderful organization.