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Marine Corps Marathon: Race Recap Part 2

When we left off with Part 1, the howitzer blasted and the race started….I guess this is where my recap actually gets interesting.

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The Race

I don’t think I can break down the race mile by mile, mostly because it is all honestly feeling like a blur. Overall, the race went well. I was very focused and honed in on my pace and generally speaking I think I did a great job keeping it in check (the below picture sums up my watch obsession pretty well).

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The first 3 miles were all uphill, but it wasn’t that bad since it was at the beginning of the race, Plus it was nice to run through an area I had never been before. I had to really try hard to control my pace on the long downhill. There were a couple times I looked down at my watch and saw 8:15/8:20 minutes per mile and had to make a concerted effort to slow down. After the first few miles through Arlington, we headed across Key Bridge, through Georgetown and into Rock Creek Park. The crowds were fantastic in RCP, but I was a bit bored since that is my regular running route. It was also still really crowded. I’m pretty sure it only started to thin out in Hains Point.

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Once I left Rock Creek, I started looking for my friends who said they would be hanging out around the mall. Around mile 11 I saw Zack and his sister Emily and when they asked how I was doing, I responded, “good, but thirsty!” I tried to drink a little water at each stop to help with hydration, but I was always SO thirsty.

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[my attempt at getting excited at a photo opp in Hains Point. The half-assed fist in the air is a common motif with this race]

Mile 11 was right at the start of Hains Point so I went into it and felt good. Fast forward to Mile 14 when I saw Zack and Emily again and I had a totally different attitude. Hains Point drained me. It’s not hard and there was no wind, so I really can’t figure out what happened. But when I saw them at Mile 14 I felt drained. I ran over to them and said (excuse my language), “Fuck Hains Point.” In fact, I’m fairly certain this picture is the exact point where I said that:

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I was smiling slightly because they were taking a picture, but don’t be fooled, I was not happy. How could I feel drained at only mile 14?! I hadn’t seen any of my friends yet so I just decided to focus on looking for them and powering through.

I finally ran into my first group of friends around mile 15.5 on the Tidal Basin bridge. Ah it made me SO happy!! Ali, Jess, MaryBeth and Caitlin screamed for me and gave me a little extra push.

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[Beer theme! They know me well :)]

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I saw them again after turning around and heading back to towards the Capitol. Next up I saw my friends Sarah and Lily! I kept just trying to push through and not stop to walk. I told myself that I just need to make it to Mile 20 and I can walk a little bit. I felt pretty defeated feeling this depleted before mile 20. I wouldn’t say I hit the wall, but I definitely felt fatigued.

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Running through the mall was fun, but I was so focused on getting to Mile 20 that I didn’t enjoy the crowds around me as much as I should have. Around mile 18 I came to the realization that my 3:50 goal was close to impossible (unless I banged out 8 min miles till the end) so ripped off my 3:50 pace band. As soon as that happened I adjusted my focus on my next goal: sub-4 hours.

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[Sans pace band....feeling better]

I hit the 14th street bridge (which felt like the longest bridge in the world) and said, “OK, Soph, you can stop to walk after the bridge.” I pushed through and started going through my Tribute Miles. I was just barely beginning my tribute to my PT when I saw Zack on the bridge (around mile 22). I begged him to run with me for a bit and, without hesitation, he jumped right in. At mile 22 I saw Megan! I knew she was going to be working the water stop and it was SO nice to see a familiar face!

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We ran through Crystal City and  Zack continued to run with me. The poor guy had a backpack on (not built for running), but he did not complain for a second. He just ran along side me and talked me through the miles. We talked about my training, the crowds, he rambled off some feel good mantras, and then we dreamed of the beer that would be consumed at the end. From miles 22 – 24.5 Zack, my savior, ran with me. (I wish so badly there was a picture of us running together…)

Once we hit the Pentagon (just before mile 25) Zack said his goodbyes and let me conquer the remaining 1.2 miles on my own. As he said, I dedicated the last mile to myself, so I need to tackle it myself. Plus he needed to hurry his butt over to the finish line so he would be there waiting for me!

Once he left, I had no doubt in my mind that I could finish under 4 hours. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and ran.

The last 1/2 mile was truly electric. While I wasn’t finished yet, I felt an overwhelming feeling of relief knowing how close I was. And then that dreaded “hill” came at the last .2 miles. Oh boy. It was super short and steep and literally took my breath away (and not in a corny way). I had to dig real deep to sprint through the finish line.

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I crossed the finish line at 3:59:50. Just 10 mere seconds away from the 4 hour mark. I can’t even wrap my head around that. It just goes to show how much every second counts! When people ask, I ran the marathon in just under 4 hours, but tend to qualify it by specifying that it was 3:59:50 (so barely under 4). But, screw it, I’m done qualifying. I ran my first marathon in under 4 hours and I am damn proud of it. Here’s a shot of me just about to clear the finish line. The fist in the air is the best I could muster.

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Don’t you just love when your Garmin says you ran father than you the race length? I noticed throughout the whole race that my watch was off by about .3 miles, so I made a point to look at my watch when it actually hit 26.2. According to my lovely Garmin, my time was 3:58:47. Big difference, right? With my sub 4- hour time I hobbled to get my medal, posed for some pictures and walked the (what felt like) 3 miles to find my friends.

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Man was I sore! I found my friends and Zack and gave sweaty hugs all around!

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[Here we have Zack explaining to me how sore his back and legs were from running. STFU. :)]

Now that the marathon was over, we had to tackle the hard part: the metro ride home. Boy oh boy was it a cluster fuck. The trains themselves weren’t crowded, just the entrance to the station. Oh and the poor spectators coming out of Rosslyn had to walk up that dreaded escalator to get out! I sat down on the escalator and watched in horror.

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Before we went home, we stopped a beer store to claim my real prize:

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Priorities right? And then I finally showered and  threw on some MCM clothing. Time for the celebration :)

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If you follow me on Instagram you already know how I celebrated: beer, candy and a cream cheese & olive bagel. That’s a healthy refuel right?

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[Don't knock it till you try it...unless you hate olives, then don't be a hater *cough* *cough* Lily]

And that about sums up my FIRST MARATHON! Ah I can’t believe it is all over. I truly feel in denial and it is slowly turning into depression. What am I going to do now? I am SO tempted to sign up for another marathon, but I know I should stick to shorter distances. First step? Start running again. I’ve really taken advantage of the whole post-marathon rest period and haven’t run since the race. I’m thinking I might go out on a short jaunt this morning…or maybe tomorrow… we shall see.

I am planning on doing a review on marathon training and pin pointing where things “went wrong” during the race (I really want to figure out why I felt so burnt out early). But, for now, I’m going to kick back, relax, and enjoy the high :)

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A MASSIVE thanks to all my friends who spent their Sunday watching me run. I’m sure it wasn’t the most exciting way to spend a Sunday morning (there were plenty of signs on the course where people mentioned that I could be brunching instead of running. assholes.) But I love you all (Ali, MB, Jess, Caitlin, Lily, Sarah, Emily & Zack) for coming out to support me :)

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26 Comments

    • Thanks! Beers were delicious of course. I didn’t even post all of the photos…

      Reply
  1. Woohoo- congratulations on finishing your first marathon AND running it sub-4! That awesome you had so many spectators! It really does help!
    I’m glad you’ve been taking it easy and haven’t signed up for another marathon…yet! It’s so easy to do right after a race.
    Abby @ Change of Pace recently posted…Change the pace – the magic of the runchMy Profile

    Reply
    • I am SO tempted. I actually am embarrassed to say that I looked up Boston Qualifying times and now I am racking my brain to figure out if I can kick my ass and run MCM again next year to qualify….I need to slow down :)

      Reply
    • Thank you!! LOVE your blog name :)

      Reply
  2. Congrats on finishing your first marathon AND finishing it sub-4!!!

    Hains Point is in pretty much every DC race over 10 miles and it has that effect every single time. Don’t know what it is about that place…

    Can’t wait to hear what’s next, but I’m glad you’re taking some time off before deciding!
    Logan @ Mountains and Miles recently posted…I’ll Be Back =)My Profile

    Reply
    • Hains Point is the worst! And now I’m looking to sign up for races and I can’t avoid it! But I guess I’ll deal :)

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    • That definitely distinguishes the bucket-list marathoners from the obsessive runners. I can’t stop thinking about what I want to do next!

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    • Thank you!

      Reply
  3. YAY good job! 10 seconds is 10 seconds — no one can take it away from you! so happy you finished strong.

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    • Thank you :)

      Reply
  4. Congratulations! I enjoyed reading your recap :) And seconds really do matter. I know someone that qualified for Boston by 1 SECOND. So yes, definitely embrace your sub-4:00 finish!

    Also, I get annoyed super annoyed at my Garmin for clocking farther than race distance. I’m bad at running tangents and have a habit of adding distance by weaving on race courses. At the Chicago Marathon in 2012, my Garmin said I ran 27+ miles :'(
    Madelynne recently posted…WeekendMy Profile

    Reply
    • True dat! Every second counts. I can’t believe your watch was that far off! I try SO hard to run the tangents, but in crowded races, it’s so difficult!

      Reply
  5. I’m a week (plus) behind, but heck, whatever – CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! This is a phenomenal race – especially for your first. You rock!!!!! Sounds like you experienced the full range of marathon emotions, and pulled through everything to a solid finish. Awesome! [Unfortunately, pretty much all marathons will come up 0.2-0.4 miles long, depending on how you run the corners and tangents.]

    Enjoy a little R&R, and reflection time – but start thinking about your next goal. That helps combat the post-race slump. And this may already have been written in a subsequent post, but my unofficial opinion would be that your bonk-y feeling was related to….hydration. You said you were thirsty the whole race. Perhaps you went in a bit dehydrated, then didn’t really drink enough in the early miles. This is easy to do, especially in fall races, when the weather starts to cool – you feel like your hydration needs are nil, compared with the hot summer training you’ve done. It’s easy to under-drink; so hydration would be my guess. The good news? It’s a super-easy thing to fix, once you’re aware of it. :)

    Hope you’re still flying high from your accomplishment.

    Reply
    • Thank you!! I still can’t believe I did it! I have a post coming up soon about what’s next…and then I’m going to do a “what went ‘wrong'” post. I think hydration could definitely be one part of it. But, I can’t figure out how. The days leading up I was drinking tons of water and Nuun and I started drinking water during the race around mile 4 (then basically every water stop after that). I am a water-holic so it’s hard for me to imagine being dehydrated! Any thoughts coach? :)

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      • Hard to know without a play-by-play of your water intake, but I would suspect that maybe you didn’t drink enough ON race morning (given the start logistics, bathroom concerns, etc. etc.) – so after an overnight, you never quite got your fluids topped up. But urine color is the best test of hydration, and when you pee in a port-o-pot, that’s certainly not a place you can “color check”. :)

        I also don’t know what your nutrition strategy was, and how closely it matched what you did in training. Thoughts on that front?
        Holly @ Run With Holly recently posted…A Message To Anyone Worried About “Unglam” Race PhotosMy Profile

        Reply
        • That could definitely be it. I drank probably 2 glasses of Nuun the morning of the race, but it was all before I left my house at 6:20 (race started at 7:55). I was too worried about standing in line at the porta potties over and over again! I think you might be on to something…

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          • Dang. Was it “active hydration” Nuun, or one of the lower-electrolyte versions? I’m gonna guess “active hydration” – if so, then THAT is a good part of why you were thirsty. You took in a good hit of salt without enough liquid, 2 hours before you lost any salt at all. That mimics dehydration to your body (too much salt, not enough water), and probably started you off out of whack.
            Holly @ Run With Holly recently posted…A Message To Anyone Worried About “Unglam” Race PhotosMy Profile

          • It was active hydration! Thanks for helping me get to the bottom of this! So in the future, I should have had more water in the morning in addition to the active hydration?

  6. That is truly phenomenal to run sub 4:00 at your 1st!
    I do not know a lot of people that have done that (myself included).
    That is so awesome!
    I have heard a lot about MCM and know some that have run it.
    It sounds like a pretty tough course and that should make you that much more proud of the accomplishment.
    Great race recap and thanks for sharing all of your feelings and photos!
    Super cute selfie of you in the mirror :)

    I am just now starting the toughest portion of my training for my 1st 24 Hour on December 31st.

    Congrats again!

    Chris
    http:/./www.mavrocatstrength.com
    Chris recently posted…Across the Years Training Week 16 RecapMy Profile

    Reply
    • Thanks! Still riding the post-marathon high! Good luck with your training and thanks for stopping by!

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    • Thanks!!

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