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Sunday Night WrapUp – and Look Ahead!

11 Jun

So last weekend I *finally* settled on a training plan for the Marine Corps Marathon in October. I think. I mean, I’m pretty sure but….we’re going with this because I needs a plan!! And I’m going with 100% full disclosure on my updates, slow times and all!

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This week’s Galloway plan called for:
Monday:  Day Off
Tuesday: 30 Minutes (this is constant all the way through the plan)
Wednesday: Day Off
Thursday: 30 MInutes (another constant!)
Friday: Easy Walk
Saturday: Day Off (third day off this week so you can see what I REALLY like about this plan!!)
Sunday:  4 Miles

I used 40:30 intervals – my plan is to work up to 60:30 by October which according to Jeff’s chart should give me an 11:00 minute mile. Of course this means my walk can’t be my usual stroll 😀 And since I need to be at a steady 14 to avoid being diverted or swept I think this will work well since I know there will be slowing along the way, especially if it is as hot as it was the last time I ran this!

I was really good at the Days Off this week!! Seriously though, I did Tuesday’s 30 minutes actually ON Tuesday! Then I did Thursday’s on Friday.

Tuesday went fairly well, for a starting run. I decided to run up Long Hill to set a baseline time –

Time up the inclining street behind my house – this is my time to beat as training goes on!

 

Run Recap (mapmyrun)

Thursday/Friday was not so great. I was slower and my legs felt heavier. But I went out (finally!) and did it!

Thursdays run on Friday

Sunday I planned to actually haul myself out of bed early enough so that I wouldn’t boil. Plus, I had things to do so had some motivation! I didn’t start as early as I hoped but…I did start!! And finish!

Sunday – 4-miler.

Next week’s schedule is almost exactly the same as this but Sunday calls for 10.5!! Yikes!! I may attack it in bites but I have 10.5 miles to run next week!!

It’s that Time again!!!

4 Jun

Every year around this time I sit down with books and calendars and lists and….I try to decide HOW on earth am I going to train for my marathon THIS time!

Criteria:
1. It definitely needs to be “doable” – this varies every year for me! I NEVER have so much on my plate that a few runs a week and long weekend run is impossible. But as you may know, I don’t always manage to fit everything in.
2. It should be “tested” – if I can ask my running friends about a plan, I like that I can get feedback from them. Or a google search can give me answers
3. It has some flexibility – and by this I mean, if I can’t do a long run on Sunday maybe I can move it to Saturday or, depending on my circumstances, even Monday. Or, I can shift my weekday runs by a day either way to get them in.
4. It should give me the opportunity to improve – I know I have to put in the work and any improvement is up to me, not the plan. But as a slower runner, it can be discouraging to do the work and not get better

In the past, I’ve “followed” the Hal Higdon plans generally, though I’ve also looked at the Jeff Galloway plans over the years. Huge differences in these plans are the short runs mid-week and the long run distances. Higdon does a Tuesday, Wed, Thursday – from 2-6 miles throughout the plan and the weekend long runs get up to 20-22.  Galloway has you do 2 runs on Tuesday and Thursday. Each of them are 30 minutes for the duration of the plan. And his long runs go up to 26 miles.

I do like the idea of the 30 minutes so I don’t have to remember if it’s 3 or 4 or 6 or what! I’m a bit concerned that it’s only 2 times a week (and only 30 minutes). And, I know me (and you know me!) and we all know that there is no way I’ll ever hit a 26 mile long run in August and September!!

Also, the Galloway plan is 30 weeks so I’m already 9 weeks late! Higdon starts at the end of June.

So I think what my plan is is this:
I am going to start with Galloway this week – and I’m going to add a 30 minute run on Wednesdays, at least until it becomes a habit.

I think it was helpful for me when I would track here my training plan and how I did each week so coming up every Sunday evening we’ll get to give me a gold star or…not!

Wish me luck and send all the encouragement you have to spare!!!

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Time to Take the Hill – Hospital Hill

26 May

Last weekend I returned to Fredericksburg, VA for the fourth time to run the Marine Corps Historic Half marathon.

Now, I LOVE the events that the Marines pull together because…well, they’re the US Marine Corps and kind of know what they’re doing!

My BRF Jen and I make a full weekend out of the trip. I headed over to Pennsylvania with Phred on Thursday. He is always excited to see his best little buddy B and go for walkies! Friday was a day to sit and hang with my dog and try to finish the library book I’ve been hauling around for a month and a half!!

One of Jen’s friends came over Friday evening and we went out for Mexican food before settling in for wine drinking, Tarot card reading and watching The Last Jedi.

Saturday was travel day to Fred.

Phred heading to Fred!!!

It was rainy but the forecast for Sunday’s race day was warm and sunny. The drive down was pretty easy compared to past years when traffic was awful! Once we got into town things backed up due to flooding in the Rappahannock (pictures)

River almost to the walking path….

The expo was small, as usual, so after grabbing our bibs and a couple of freebie items we headed over to the Wegmans next door for ‘supplies’ – bananas mainly but also possibly some wine. Dinner was at a tiny vegan-ish market and cafe called Kickshaws  They *do* serve meat so I had a turkey and bacon sandwich.

Gluten Free – that’s right!

We wandered downtown a bit before heading to the Hyatt Place (our new favorite place to stay for this race!)

After getting things ready for Sunday morning we headed to sleep early. The plan was to head out to the start around 6 to be sure to get parked and bags checked and all that other fun stuff!

Flat Me – Skirt Sports Lioness in Wave print and wear blue singlet.

Jen was running her first half marathon in quite a few years and she was ready! I was as ready as usual 😀 Well, possibly a bit more than usual.

Heading out, I felt pretty okay. My plan was to take it slow (haha) and hopefully get off of the road before it got *too* hot and sunny out. The first few miles went as I hoped but I started to notice that even using my usual fuel and stopping at all water stops my energy was really dropping. To make matters a little worse, my CGM wasn’t transmitting so I was guessing at my blood sugar based on how I felt. And I felt either VERY low or VERY high.

By mile 6.5-7 I was walking a lot more than running. After every run interval it was getting harder and harder to catch my breath. I was just holding on until I got past Hospital Hill (and then the mile 12 hill after!) It was around this point that I texted Jen that I wasn’t sure I was going to make it…but I kept pushing

Around Mile 9 I noticed that the course seemed to be different than in past years and when I headed UP a hill to Hospital Hill I was certain that things had changed! At this point, I was stopping every few minutes to get my breath and am thankful for every person who passed and checked on me.

I eventually made it up Hospital HIll, and headed down the other side where there was a tribute to the Marine Corps – this was something new and I wish I’d had the energy to get pictures so stay tuned for Next Year! When I hit mile 12 I texted Jen to let her know that I was a mile out and would hopefully be there soon!

I did make it to the finish but I had literally no energy to spare! Normally I’m all about the sweaty hug for the Marine who gives me my medal but…I could barely move my arms even.

This was how I looked for much of the last half of this half!!

After making the crazy decision to not hit the beer tent (WHAT???!?!?!)

First time I’ve ever made it home with an intact beer ticket….

I grabbed my checked bag to test my sugar (HIGH HIGH HIGH!) and change my shoes before heading to the car —> hotel —> shower —> breakfast —> PA!  Breakfast was at Legume and I had delicious Huevos Rancheros with a few bites of a gluten free waffle (delicious as well!) and a super spicy bloody Mary!

This was a delicious Bloody Mary! Coarse grated horseradish and seriously yummy olives!!!

TMI Note: At this point – 1 pm- I still hadn’t really pee’d. Which means since about 6:30 in the morning….nothing! It was another 3 hours or so before I had replenished my fluids enough….this explains the pounding heartbeat after each of my run intervals. The big D – Dehydration! Also explains the super high blood sugar.

We wrapped up our time in Fredericksburg and headed back to Jen’s house. I had planned to head home Monday which was probably one of the better decisions I made all weekend! After a dinner of pizza and super hot chicken wings there was time for more book reading before bed!

My big takeaway from this weekend — when you think you’re hydrated hydrate more, especially when the weather is going to be hotter than you’re used to. And, on a day-to-day basis, I drink a TON of water and when I’m running I add an electrolyte drink but this is the first time I have ever experienced such dehydration. Guess what folks — it’s not fun!! Otherwise the weekend was as expected – a great event with an awesome friend (who, by the way, kicked ASS for her half marathon comeback!)

Also, you’ll be happy to know that I finally finished my book and it is safely back at home at the library!!

Goals are Scary

26 Oct

Since Halloween is right around the corner, I figured I’d write about something that is scarier than I thought it would be.

GOALS!

That’s right, I said Goals. They’re scary things, goals are. Here’s my thoughts on this.

I’ve never been real big at setting goals — sure I throw some New Year’s Resolutions up once in a while or, I promise I’ll blog more (that’s a goal, right?) and I most definitely have an “ideal weight” goal.

Goals = Commitment. Goals are promises we make ourselves. I am NOT at all good at keeping the promises to myself.

With running, my ‘goal’ has always just been to finish. To not quit. To not get pulled from the course. And honestly, that’s done by me being stubborn more than anything else.

This year, I’ve tried something a little different. Since about mid-July, I’ve set time goals for most of my long training runs and half marathons. They line up with my expectations for the Marine Corps Marathon in 4 more sleeps (yikes!). It’s really very helpful that the Marines give us some very definite cut-off times for certain points on the course. Clock times along with a pace per mile limit.

MCM has some hard cutoff/diversion times on the course.

This year the kind folks at MCM are also enforcing “The Gauntlet” – this is a spot around mile 17.5-18 (15.5 this year) as you are about to enter The Mall. If you miss this ‘cutoff” at 12:38 you will be diverted to a spot further along the course and will not be considered an official finisher. I’m guessing you can take a medal if you want but you would know you didn’t run the full 26.2

If you’re familiar with the Marine Corps Marathon at all you’ve definitely heard about Beating the Bridge. The Bridge in question is the 14th street bridge, usually around Mile 20, but pulled back to 18 this year. In the past, in my experience, as long as you are *on the bridge* before the cutoff, you’re good. Apparently, though, you actually have to be *ACROSS* the bridge, which adds another mile + to the equation! If you don’t make this cutoff, you get on a bus and you get a ride to the finish. No running up the hill to the monument. No medal. (Edit: I found this on the MCM App after I’d written up this post – All MCM participants must reach the intersection of 14 and D Streets before the 14th Street Bridge by 1:15 p.m. This is located just past Mile 18. So yay, looks like we’re good here!)

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Started making notes…

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Mile by mile breakdown…

My goals are based on the original mileage/timing and are dependent on me crossing the start line no later than 8:08 am – this year with the Metro not opening early as in years past, the start line will not close until 8:55 at which time the 14 mm pace will be calculated/enforced. This start time should give us a little cushion (I am running with my friend, First Time Marathoner, Debby!)

As you know I am no speed demon but my goal is to hit my original times  and not think about any cushion built in.

The whole point of this post is this: I’m always kind of surprised when people talk about being nervous before an event, even if they’ve run it many times before. The ‘race nightmares’ (mine is getting lost on the course or not having my shoes!) , not able to sleep the night before. None of this has ever been my experience. HOWEVER, now that I have these goals I’m starting to get nervous.

Even though I’ve run more than 13 miles for training runs. And even though this will be my SIXTH time running with the Marines.  All these numbers are making me crazy and making me second-guess myself. I’m fortunate to have a TON of supportive friends around me to remind me that this is not an impossible journey!!

I guess this means I’m finally taking this running thing a bit more serious. Which is a good thing. I mean, it’s about darn time amiright? Let’s not get crazy, I’m not one of those “Oh my gosh I *have* to run today” people…but I am actually kind of enjoying it. So I have that going for me 🙂

So — What are some of your goals that might be trying to scare you these days?! 

Hello, It’s Me.

23 Sep

Once upon a time, I thought, “hey! I’ll write a blog! It’ll be great for accountability and I’ll meet new people and…it’ll be great!”

So here I am.

 

But haven’t been terribly consistently accountable.

I *think* I might be getting close to organized enough in the other areas of my life to jump right back in – and hopefully, to even eventually share some of the awesome things I’ve done so far this year but never posted. We’ll see. No promises, right?

And now it’s coming up on Fall Race Season – you know, that time of year when I spend several weekends either travelling somewhere to run or running at home (mostly the former though). Last year wasn’t completely disastrous. Until I got to the end of October and then beat myself up – privately of course – for my horrible performance at Marine Corps Marathon.  I swore that I would never again run a marathon without doing the training.

Well. For the last 2 months I HAVE been doing the training. Mostly. Yeah. I started late, missed a couple of the shorter long runs and more than a couple of the short mid-week runs.

But I’m hitting the road. And the treadmill. Ya’ll I did FOURTEEN miles on a treadmill when the temps were over 100 a few weeks ago. I ran nearly every day when I visited my dad at the end of August. Usually around noon. In Texas where, again, it was pretty darn hot. But it all felt good!!

Now I’m 36 days away from my redemption at MCM – and feeling confident that I won’t repeat last year’s mess. Because I’m spending a lot of time with hills. BIG hills

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Just an example of how things are running at home….this from my 18 miler turned 19.5 miler last week….

I’m kind of being helped along by a couple of changes being made by the Marines due to some logistical difficulties this year. The Guantlet and The Bridge have both been moved up by a couple of miles so SCORE! And, as I mentioned, I’ve actually done some training this year.

But before then, I have a few other things on my plate –

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Tomorrow is the Hogsback Half Marathon – I discovered this one on the Twitters when someone mentioned the great post-race feast and I’m glad I did. It’s a fairly small event, with a gorgeous course – seriously, no part of this course is ugly! – great post-race festivities. And, they offer an early start for us slower folks which is really nice because you’re finishing with #allthepeople and not straggling in

After that, starting in October, there is the Hartford Half Marathon – I did this one once before I moved to CT. A few years back they changed the course and this will be my second year running the new course. This is another fun post-race – particularly the Mile 27 Beer Garden (the Hartford Marathon Foundation also offers a full on the same day) and the longest drinking fountain ever! Instead of bottled water, you get a water bottle which is pretty awesome.

The following week I will be travelling to the Sweetest Place on Earth. That’s not a typo! I’m heading to Hershey PA for the Hershey Half Marathon. This will be my third time running this one and one that I plan to keep on my must-do list for as long as I can. I mean, great swag and fresh chocolate at mile 12? Yes please!  A few of my friends are planning to run this one as well which adds to the great weekend!

Then. Dun dun dun….it’ll be time to head down to DC and #runwiththeMarines. I’m not out to set records, but I am out to do the best I can. And again, lots of friends running this one as well but I will probably spend most of the 26.2 on my own. Laser like focus right? And I have a plan…

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My MCM Race Day plan – based on the original timing

My plan – for all of my events coming up but most especially for the Marathon – is to stick with the intervals I’m training with. No funny stuff!! And really work on not taking off so “fast” and holding back the first few…or first 10-15 miles.

Run my own race, work towards the goals I’ve written down. Trust myself. I’ve done it before and I can do it again, right?

That Time the Wheels Came Off

31 Mar

In honor of today being the day everyone found out if they got in the Marine Corps Marathon, I thought I’d share the post I never published. My 2015 MCM was not my favorite experience, other than running with my girls

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As a reminder, I had done the Hershey Half Marathon the previous Sunday and was still in the early stages of my new job – still computer free if I remember correctly…Anyway after a quick trip home and a few days of work, it was time to hop in the car again for another race weekend.

Friday afternoon I took off early from work again to head down to DC for the Fortieth Marine Corps Marathon (and my fifth!) with Phred by my side as usual. The drive down was pretty uneventful which is always a good way to start these things off!

And as usual, I had chosen to stay pretty far out of town in Tyson’s Corner. Before getting to the hotel, I stopped off at Trader Joe’s for some munchies. The plan was to sleep as long as I needed to and head to the expo to meet up with Pam and Kimberlee. And since Team McGraw had put up a team again this year I was hoping I’d run into a few of those running friends as well.

I got to the expo about mid-day and ran into Kristine and Norman at the Metro stop. Kristine was doing some more shopping and we got a couple of pictures (as we tend to do!)

When I got into the expo, I was THRILLED to realize that I was picking up a very low numbered bib for the first time EVER in a big race. It should be noted here that MCM does not number your bib according to pace 🙂

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This fine young Marine got me started on my way to Iwo Jima

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Whoa!! Corral A!!! Not really – MCM is self-corralling

After picking up my bib I headed to get my shirt and bag. Since 40 is the Ruby anniversary the shirts are a gorgeous ruby red color.

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A nice winter weight mock turtleneck –

Then I decided to wander the floor while waiting for Pam and Kimberlee

I stopped by the USAA booth and asked about the Challenge Coins that they used to distribute since I hadn’t gotten on the previous year. Due to costs they’ve stopped giving them out but the awesome lady there gave me a special USAA coin when she discovered I’d been a member for 25 years!

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When I eventually met up with Pam I ended up trying out the SparklySoul headbands – another company that promises that the bands won’t end up sliding off of my big round head! There were some on sale so I grabbed a couple and would give them a try the next day. I also went through the Official Merchandise room and picked up a beer glass and a shirt. The line was long but moved pretty quickly so once we finished up there we went back out on the expo floor to do more exploring!

Of course we had to take a picture with Coach Galloway!

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We found Kimberlee eventually and did a little more wandering before deciding to call it a day and make plans to meet up in the morning.

On my hunt for meat and potatoes I decided to just call a local diner and grab a burger and fries to go so I picked up Phred from the hotel and after a quick walkies he came with me to get my dinner. Another quiet night in the hotel with plans to get up and get on the first train possible in the morning. Bonus with this hotel is there was a metro station within walking distance! Yay!

I did get out there early enough to grab one of the earliest trains. While waiting I chatted with the one other runner who was there, running his first MCM. We made it out to the Pentagon station with little trouble since the crowd wasn’t too bad yet.

The biggest problem came when we got to the security checkpoint. Here the crowds were really backed up – this is the first time I’ve encountered this at Marine Corps and people weren’t too happy about things. After a wait and a screen with the wand (since my pump set off the metal detector) I made it to the runner’s village. I ran into Jeff McMahon and one of the Team McGraw marathoners on my way to the potty and it was good to chat with him – since the last time I saw him was at LAST year’s Marine Corps Marathon. We chatted a bit then I needed to get my bag checked and find all my peeps!

My Racing the Dream people met up for pre-race pictures and then split up and I had told Pam where we were so she headed that way. We were still waiting for Kimberlee who was stuck in that horrible security traffic jam.

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Pam and I heading to the start. Notice the ponchos…

Eventually we headed out to the start area to stake out a spot an luckily Kim made it out before the cannon went off!

Our plan was to stick with 1:1 intervals for as long as we could and then switch over to 30:30’s when we got a little tired. This worked really well for the first five miles or so but once we got into Rock Creek Park we started to slow down pretty significantly – or at least it felt that way. But we were still in pretty good spirits

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Lioness in Tantrum, and wear blue: run to remember

Pam started to hurt fairly early on and we could see how far behind we were once we made the turn around at about Mile 7. But our goal was to Beat the Bridge and I thought we were still going to be okay, even though my blood sugar was dropping pretty fast and we were all feeling a little more pain. Once we got into East Potomac park we were doing more walking than running and we stopped off at a medical tent along the way.

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Me and Mr. Lincoln — sort of 🙂

Once back out approaching the mall we were actually PASSED by the tail car and realized at that time that there was definitely a possibility that we weren’t going to get to the bridge on time. At mile 19, when we had a mile to go, it became every woman for herself and Kimberlee pushed out ahead first and got in front of the car. I’m not sure how I did it but as I got closer to the Mile 20 marker I managed to get in front of the car and was seriously concerned for Pam but really couldn’t turn around to see if I could see her. I got onto the bridge and was gaining on Kim and finally got close enough to call out so she turned around and held out her hand and we pushed on, wondering if Pam had made it.

About half way across the bridge we heard it! A voice behind us yelling “Anne!! Kim!!!” and turned around to see Pam coming!! We slowed down and she sped up and we made it across the bridge as a team!!

The next 5 miles we knew we could take a lot slower but we still managed to pass a few people. It was fairly disappointing that the remaining fuel stops had already been dismantled but the water stops were still manned and the Marines and others were just as encouraging as they could be!

I was feeling some pain when walking and felt better at a slow jog so I pulled away from the girls but turned around every now and then to check on them. As I approached the final hill I got a little encouragement from this service dog before turning the corner to take on the last hill.

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Best character stop ever – and no line!!

Again it was a little disappointing that instead of the usual crew of Marines cheering us up the hill there was …. no one but I totally get it. We were late.

I tuned halfway up the hill to check on my girls and saw them coming so I made the final push and ran the rest of the way to the Marine who was going to put my medal around my neck.

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Once out of the chute I waited for Pam and Kimberlee to head to the monument for the all important finishing picture.

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We walked together through the finish area where again, there was no food remaining or any of the warming blankets or jackets (we later learned that runners and non-runners alike were taking multiples of all the runner goodies… sad face)

Pam had a flight to catch so we said good bye at the fence and as Kim and I headed to get our bags I saw that the beer garden was still open so we split there, thinking that we may or may not see each other later at our RTD dinner. Which ended up being canceled since people weren’t going to make it on time, yours truly included :/

I went in to the beer garden where a very nice lady handed me a beer she had just got for her daughter but couldn’t bring out into the street. And yes, I then went over and turned in my beer ticket so I double-fisted my drinks and hung out for a bit.

By the time I got my bag and got onto the Metro the crowds had pretty much died down and since I was the next to last stop I had a good rest. I got back to the hotel and took my buddy out for his walk and headed over to WalMart to see what I could find for dinner. What I found was a really good loaf of bread and a cheap bottle of wine that went really well with the cheese I had picked up at Trader Joe’s.

A quick shower and then I hopped into bed with my delightful snack where I pondered what had happened that day and the things I learned about myself.

1. I am now past being able to half-ass my training just because I know I can cover the miles. I’ve never been so close to getting swept in a marathon (except for Paris where they don’t actually sweep, they just close everything down!)
2. I need to put in the work. REALLY put in the work. Just because I know I can do it without great training doesn’t mean I should. I was completely mentally and physically unprepared for this to turn out the way it did.
3. I am stubborn and I am sure that is at least 80% of why I was able to finish this. The other 20% was having the support of my friends and knowing they were struggling as much as I was.

This was quite possibly the toughest 26.2 I’ve done since the first time I ran a marathon. I went through a whole range of emotions during the day but at the end of it all, I’m really proud of myself and my girls for pushing through and finishing. I’m not at all proud of my performance and know I can do better .

All in all, I still LOVE this event and will be doing it again. But I will definitely be more accountable and responsible with my training. It’s the adult thing to do right?

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Congratulations to everyone who got in today!!! You are in for an amazing 26.2!!! Hope to see some of you out there!!

xoxo

 

Marine Corps Marathon – Recap

30 Oct

10329305_10154196841865014_348367459975963361_nOkay, so I’m late 🙂 Shocking!!

So, for the purposes of this recap, we will assume there was some travel and such. And the usual expo excitement

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— except these lines weren’t “usual”…

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My plan was to get to the train station as close to 5 am as possible since those places tend to get crowded pretty fast. I man CROWD. ED!

 

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Taken in the Pentagon station back in 2011

Line switching was pretty pain-free and when we finally got to the Pentagon station the crowds weren’t backed up as I’ve experienced in the past.

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Waiting on a train in Rosslyn

We exited the station at the Pentagon and started the trek to the Runner’s Start Village…I love walking past the Pentagon and getting into the village. But first a stop at the metal detectors! We flagged down someone who seemed to be in charge to let him know that Kris couldn’t go through the machines and it was no problem at all!! He was a Jersey guy after all!!

In the village we found the porta potties with no lines/little lines and, while I was in there, I stocked my race belt with some extra tp…just in case!  We headed to the spot where we were to meet up with the other Team McGraw and Team RWB runners for pre-race pictures but never saw anyone we knew so the other girls waited for coffee while I pottied again. And dropped off my bag. And then it was time to head to the start.

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One last picture before the fun!

Where this guy reminded us REALLY why we needed to enjoy each mile:

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Everyone was there!!

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Marine Corps Marathon lets you self-corral — I will confess here that it’s possible I lined up a bit earlier than I should have but NOT ridiculously out of my range!

But more important — there was an AWESOME flag display…including one of the flags being carried by Veteran Kyle Carpenter

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I lost count of how many of the jumpers had flags…probably 10 or so! AWESOME!

And the Black Hawk flyover (I think they’re Black Hawks…they’re big, they’re black and…well..)

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The National Anthem was sung and we were off!!!

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Some of these people seem to be going the wrong way….

My plan was 1:1 intervals so I found some folks who were also doing them. Of course when we hit the first hill I lost them 🙂 I managed to keep up a fairly decent pace and never felt like I was falling too far behind.

I’m very thankful that Cheryl and Kristen were out there on the course! This was when I saw them the first time, I think….somewhere around 10-11

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Then we entered what used to be the most desolate part of the course. The first year I ran this, my friend Jennifer joined me here and got me to the bridge (Back then it was closer to East Potomac Park/Hains Point). Now, this area is the site of the Blue Mile. Here is where the fantastic  people of Wear Blue: Run to Remember set up.

Pictures of fallen warriors. Lots of them VERY young. Lots of them holding their children. (Sorry for the bad pictures — if you visit their website or Facebook page, there are lots of really good ones!)

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And after that, filling out the rest of the mile were people holding flags, also tagged with the names of those being honored.

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These were some of the most encouraging non-Marines on the course! I’m pretty sure that there was not a dry eye for this mile. There were also plenty of hugs handed out here. I myself had a nice ugly cry for a bit, then a minor panic attack when I couldn’t get my breathing under control again! This happened several times on the course but most definitely here.

About this time I started thinking “Yay! Almost at a half marathon!” followed IMMEDIATELY by “Oh hell…another half marathon to go!” And this is also where I started thinking “Maybe I’m just a half marathon kind of girl and after Paris I’ll stick to halfs…except for I want to do this one again, and then LA and London and…” So. Yeah…nuts.

Shortly after coming out of this out and back, I saw Kristen and Cheryl again. Or, they saw me!! I grabbed my last apple sauce and kept moving. We were approaching the mall and my gut was telling me that I was falling behind the clock. Then the girls told me that my last update was predicting a 6:14 finish which…frankly, I did not believe!!

So I kept plugging along, talking to folks along the way and somewhere just after 19 I saw Randy, this weekend’s Team McGraw/Team RWB photographer! Apparently he *did* get that video of me waving and yelling! A quick time check and I knew I was going to make it to Mile 20 in plenty of time! As usual, there was the Ladies’ Chinese drum group (I have no idea what they’re really called!) pounding as we neared the Bridge.

And then, this happened!

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At this point, really all I wanted to do was lay down and take a nap!! I ended up mostly walking across the bridge but still managed to clear it before the bus came along. I knew that the girls were waiting for me just on the other side. And who knew what else was waiting!!

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Yeah, and, I only really wanted just like, on HUGE gulp  – I was surprised how refreshing it was!! The girls headed over to the finish area and the runners (and me!) headed into Crystal City. This was another out and back and it was good to see how well people seemed to be doing! Runners will still all smiles! Mostly. A huge fire hose at the turnaround was refreshing (some thought it was unnecessary and too chilling though!) and I knew that I was just a mile or so away from some Dunkin’ Munchkins! (no picture available….my hands were full!)

Here the course changed up a bit from what I remember but we ran through the Pentagon access roads back out onto the highway where this all started hours ago! And then it happened…Mile 26. Followed INSTANTLY by….

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I was determined to run up this one. Sidelines were PACKED with Marines high-fiving and encouraging!! How could you not want to run this?!

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I didn’t actually run the whole thing.

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But I did make it to the top

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And just around the corner I could see the finish line. And More Marines. And the Marine put the medal around my neck and congratulated me. “Great work Ma’am” . And more ugly crying.

Along with the medal, I picked up my post-race snack box and a blanket (later, down the hill at bag pickup Marines were handing out finishing jackets – another new thing from my last time at this event!)

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After finding my friends, and resting for a bit it was time to head back to the hotel – but not before we made plans to all enter the lottery for this again in 2015. After all, it will be the 40th Anniversary – And you know I love my Anniversary bling!!

All in all it was a most Awesome day! There was lots of course support, both from the sidelines and other runners — was especially great to get the thumbs up from the TeamRWB runners!

And, while I thought I had PR’d turns out that was not so. I got my PR back at this race in 2011! It was really an emotional day for me and one I will remember for a  very long time! And I’m really looking forward to taking on that hill again next year!!

But first, I’ll be doing this one next May!!

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