Monday, November 8, 2010

2010 Marine Corps Marathon Race Report

Here's another race report detailing the 35th Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday October 31, 2010. Bits of useless info among how my "race" went and anything else that happens to come up!
Woke up 30 minutes before my 5am alarm and was a little restless. Had a bagel w/ butter and got dropped off at the Metro at 5:20am or so. Met a guy while waiting (one of 3 other runners waiting) - Guido from PA running his first. We stuck together thru the transfer and Long walk from the Pentagon to the bag search. Was nice passing the time, discussing running (trails, training, etc). It was a mass of people following signs and each
other in the dark under a bit of moon peaking out from the clouds. The walk (and people) seemed endless. ~1 mile? The bag "search" was surprisingly not too invasive. I say surprising because the race was to have extra security after numerous shootings in the area - all directed at recruiting stations, the Pentagon and others. No people were targeted - if they had, would not have been surprised to have the race canceled. Thankfully - the race went off safely; other than a few snipers on buildings at the finish festival and lots of helicopters, security was pretty normal for a race.
Eventually made it to a large open parking lot. Two tents for cover/prayer/music, a long line of portable toilets (made more interesting by the fact that the Rally to Restore Sanity was the day before and a "war" was on over the use of the port-o-johns. MCM vs Jon Stewart), a long line of UPS trucks and that was about it. Throw in over 22,000 runners, a few thousand supporters/volunteers and we have the beginning of a race! Plenty of open space, so I sat on a curb, ate a power bar and clif bar and drank almost a full bottle of water. I had worn my sleeveless shirt (after being out in the warmth at 11am in a park I knew I'd be overdressed in anything

more) under my throwaway from at least 2 prior marathons. Shorts of course as it was only 50° and expected to reach about 60° by noon. I had brought 2 long sleeve shirts (1 technical, 1 cotton) and my wind breaker running jacket. During the 15-20 minutes in the line for the bathroom, I put my jacket on under my throwaway. The 15 minutes I had before the start were a little hurried...vaseline on the toes, shoes tied, running hat on, Gu, Scaps, disposable camera, etc in assorted pockets. Gloves on. Bag to the UPS bag-check, quick photo and off towards the start - somewhere headed under an overpass. Filled my water bottle at a station on the way and another long walk. ~0.5mi at least.
Where I started
Start was on Hwy 110 and the right lanes of the divided road were for those running over 4:30. Left lanes were for those faster and had a decent amount of space forward of the "slower" runners. I tucked into the group around the 4:00-4:10 sign and waited. Missed the flyover somehow. I could see the starting arch and saw/heard the cannons go off at 8:00am. Then I just stood there. 
The actual starting line
And stood there. A little longer. The "slower" group to my right were moving, and there went the 4:30 pace group. Some people jumped the median to start running. I waited...there was plenty of running to do. After 4-5 minutes, we began to move and I crossed the line at a jog at about 8:08am.
It was crowded and you continuously had to dodge people and weave your way by. That lasted a few miles. I missed the Mile 1 sign, and the Mile 2 sign. I knew it felt slow and someone commented we were over 10 minutes for mile 1. I didn't worry, just kept moving at my own pace. Picked it up here and there and kept the same pace up the hills that already had some people complaining, and only 2-3 miles into the course. Miles 2-4 were nicely shaded with few spectators.
some front runners
around the Georgetown reservoir
Many nature calls here and I took advantage as well after I hit the 5k timing mat in 27:59. The turn onto the Key Bridge at mile 4.5 saw larger crowds appear that grew enormously as we skirted the edge of Georgetown. I skipped all water stops until my bottle was empty again. Missing that craziness was so worth carrying my own fluids! Had my first Gu around this point. The turn off the bridge was the first of 2 places we would double back on other runners. At this point, I saw what was likely a group close to the leaders, already 3.5 miles ahead of me (That extra 8 minutes helped them just a little I guess).
Splits: 5k overall- 27:59. Mile 4-8:47
Miles 5-8 were around the Georgetown Reservoir, nicely shaded and from 6 to mile 8, uphill. The "out" portion overlooked the C and O canal while the "back" portion was a nice residential area. Moved well on the downhill section re-entering G'town and the crowds on M street were excellent!
Splits: Mile 5-8:55, Mile 6-8:37, 10k overall-55:46, Mile 7+8-17:30.
from the Key Bridge
M Street
Took another Gu, made a couple of turns, gave a shout out to some fellow Clemson Tiger fans on an overpass with a flag, passed by my wife's old workplace on Thomas Jefferson and headed on to Rock Creek Parkway past the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Memorial before heading out to Hains Point. Miles 8-10.5 were good. My wife was supposed to be around the Lincoln (mile ~10.5) with our daughter and her mother. I had already snapped some photos and got my camera out to take one of them. The road split and I took the left branch and slowed to take in more faces on each side of the street.
Splits: Mile 9- 8:27, 15k overall- 1:22:31, Mile 10-8:29.
Looking at my splits, I "thought" I had slowed, but miles 9 and 10 were my fastest of the day.
After realizing they were not to be seen, I trudged along Miles 11-15 around Hains Point. I had been warned crowds were sparse and it was just the road, the water, and National Airport across the water for this stretch. I had never been out there before, so it was nice in that regard. The sun had been out all morning, but this part was not shaded and I began to feel more than just warm. I did take another Vanilla Gu at Mile 12ish and some sports beans before mile 13 but struggled to get them out of the small package and into my mouth. After just a few, I gave up. I also finally remembered my Scaps, so I took one around mile 14.
Jefferson Memorial
Splits: Mile 11- 9:01, Mile 12- 8:59, 20k overall- 1:50:10, Mile 13- 9:01, 1/2 marathon overall- 1:56:12, Mile 14- 8:49, Mile 15- 9:11
So you can see I am pretty consistent in blocks. I was wearing a 4 hour pace band on my wrist and I was always well ahead of my intended pace, but I knew that would not last.
Washington Monument
I was not very familiar with Miles 15 and 16, coming back towards the Lincoln from the opposite direction. My wife was going to try and be there again for a 2nd pass. Camera out again, slowed down again. Huge crowds again a couple of people deep and No luck. (She saw me, but I missed her and obviously couldn't hear her).
At this point, I was starting to feel like I had been running. Some abdomen/groin soreness and I willed myself to keep running until the next mile marker (17). I wasn't out of breath, my calves and thighs felt great. No lower back issues (good posture - running in the daylight helps I think) and my shoulders had stayed relaxed. But still - my energy was dropping. By Mile 17, we were heading around the Mall almost in front of the White House. It had thinned out somewhat, so you didn't have to worry anymore about stepping on someone.
Splits: 25k overall- 2:18:07, Mile 16- 9:19, Mile 17- 9:19
We took a little detour onto the actual Mall around 17.5 for a mile or so. They even built ramps up and off the curbs to help us about taking care of runners! (and this was a last minute change!). Made a few sharp turns after Mile 18 to go in front of the Capitol and a few more to head back the way we had come, just on the opposite side of the Mall. Other than the Monuments and the Capitol/White House - I paid very little attention to the other buildings.
I was a little out of it for the turns, and had begun walking once per mile, taking in water, another Scap and Gu. I had filled up my water bottle at least three times by now. My wife's last plan to see me before the finish was around Mile 19.5, just before the turn to take the 14th Street Bridge over into VA. I slowed again, camera out...I was a little discouraged after the first two misses, but there they were!! I spotted them first and went to them (I got my picture of them as I wanted to).

me taking a picture
wife/daughter taking picture
Told them I was fine, hot. Gave them my jacket that had been around my waist for the last 19 miles. Kisses to my girls and maybe 45 seconds later, I was on my way. This was the first marathon they'd seen me run, and one of the few times they've ever seen me mid-race. I got a huge boost though - I felt so much better seeing them! Of course that lasted about half a mile, then we were on the bridge that wouldn't end starting at Mile 20.
Splits: Mile 18- 9:40, 30k overall- 2:48:08, Mile 19- 9:41. Missed mile 20 (a little distracted I guess).
So you are pretty much on the bridge into VA for 2 miles. Not a large rise, but in spots enough to make you want to walk if you really feel like like it. There was a guy behind me dressed as the guy from the Incredibles, on a bicycle blaring a radio. That was very nice, but again, didn't last. I walked as I felt like it, urging myself to run once I hit specific landmarks (ok, that lamp post) after not too much of a rest.
Was still sore (groin/abdomen) while running, and the bottomn of my feet got a little sore, but when walking, I felt just fine, like I was out for a leisurely stroll. It was very peaceful. Somewhere thru here, I did have to grab a stick of vaseline. Seems my sleeveless shirt was chafing my arm. (I remembered in a Runner's World article Not to eat what was on the stick!). It helped.
Crystal City
The turn for the Crystal City loop started large crowds the rest of the way. My run/walk continued here and I really didn't feel like pushing that much, so still, I didn't. Wasn't interested in time and I wanted to be sure I would recover. Great crowds thru here - can't say that enough. One last fill up of my water bottle and I headed for the last couple of miles.
Splits: Mile 20 + 21-20:25, 35k overall- 3:20:00, Mile 22- 10:41, Mile 23 + 24- 22:33
It all was running together at this point. Counting down the miles/minutes before I'd finish. By this point, I was playing leap frog with a number of other runners who were alternately walking/running while I was running/walking. When I was running, I seemed to be running faster than quite a few people, and at times, I would wonder how many dozens (hundreds?) of people were passing me as I walked...
We finally hit somewhere around Mile 26 - another marker I seem to have missed - as we finished on a decent climb towards the Iwo Jima Memorial. It narrowed and twisted and I ran the whole thing. I stopped once before the finish banner to snap a picture, then crossed the line.
Splits: 40k overall- 3:55:24, Mile 25- 11:42, Mile 26- ~11:23
The Finish Line!
My finish time: 4:10:35. Close to the 4:08 I had thrown out there. Good thing I wasn't going for an even split as that was my worst one ever (18:11).
The super-crowded line shuffled to some aisles where Marines presented you with your finisher's medal. Nice to feel like it was being resented and not just a "here you go" kind of thing. Back into the crowd shuffling along for a food bag. Then keep going at a snails pace. I eventually ended up at my wife's side (with her mom and our daughter in tow) and we continued toward the finisher's village. Yes - there were snipers on the rooftops! I got my USAA commemorative coin (Being a longtime USAA member and Very loyal customer, I was hoping to get one). Made my way to the UPS trucks for my bag (Ran into the Bunny ear's runner, it was her 1st and she had a great time). Also saw my Metro friend - he ran ~3:45 and enjoyed it also. We had no reason to stick around, so we went to the Metro for the trip home. Madhouse that was, holy cow! A little patience though and we were fine (other's weren't so patient and there was some yelling going on).
My legs weren't feeling too bad at all. 2 hours later and I really couldn't even tell I had ran. Had a fun time trick or treating that evening, but the next morning - yep - there was the soreness! Upper/outer thighs were sore as well as the left front ankle (which seems typical for me after marathons). Didn't stop me from walking around the National Zoo for 3+ hours on Monday. Tuesday was the ~8 hour drive home. Soreness was practically gone Wednesday morning. I'd say I was Very happy with the recovery, especially if that was the worst of it!

Happy to be finished!

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