17.75km Race Recap – Access Granted!


Access Granted!

I don’t know about you but this weekend flew by!

As I type this post, the weather is rainy and raw, but yesterday it actually felt like Spring was right around the corner! It as so nice to be outside with a hat, short sleeves and capri pants and not the multiple layers I had been wearing just several days prior.  

Mark and I are gearing up for a busy week, but  I did not want the weekend to end without recapping the race I ran last Sunday.

I had a great experience at last year’s Marine Corps Marathon (recap here) that I knew that I wanted it to be my fall marathon for 2019.  However – I did not want to enter the lottery or go through the hassle of bib transfers in the Summer, so my only other option was to the 17.75km race to gain access to the marathon.

Basically I was running a race to run a longer race in the Fall, something only a runner would do!

Spoiler Alert!

That’s not to say I did not go through my share of stress as the registration website crashed while I was trying to register, but after 30 minutes of refreshing the page – I was in!

So all that remained was to book a hotel, head down to Virginia on Friday, and get up Saturday morning to run.  

Here’s how it all shook out

The Warm Up

So.Much.Traffic.

I will spare you the details but we did not roll into Dumfries, VA until almost 9pm.  At that point we knew we had to get up at 4am, so we grabbed take out to bring to the hotel room.  The take out (anyone ever had Halal Chinese food – me either) left so much to be desired but I was starving so I shoveled my steamed meat and veggies into my mouth and headed to bed.

The Workout

On the shuttle bus to the start at 5am!

The Marine Corps Marathon has the shuttle buses down to a science.  Our hotel was across the street from the shuttle bus stop but luckily Mark agreed to drive us over.  In no time we were at the start and huddled in a church along with many of the other 3,000 runners. We were all treated to a very outdated Marine Corps Marathon video but it helped pass the time.

Waiting and keeping warm.

I had brought my pre-race oatmeal from home, which I ate but pretty soon it was close to the 7am start time.  So I trudged my way back outside (it was maybe in the 20s) to stand on line and comiserate with the other runners in line.

7am on the dot – with all of the pre-race pomp and circumstance out of the way we were off – just as the sun started to rise – making our way to Prince Williams Park.

Pre-Race “Go Time” selfie

So what I had read on some of the Facebook Groups and which turned out to be true is that the first 2.5 miles are on an unpaved trail.  Couple that with the pouring rain we received the night before and it was a muddy and rocky slog. On top of that, the road was narrow and there was a lot of jostling for space.

Needless to say my pace definitely suffered – my first 2ish miles were an average of 9:30.

However – once we got on the paved part – the course opened up and I was able to start “picking off” runners and getting into a grove.  At about 4.5 miles i had my first Honey Stinger gel – which got all over my gloves as i was trying to warm it up in my hand – and plowed on.

Again – I had read that the course was “challenging” and “hilly” and it was – but I plugged along and kept the pace pretty good as the miles ticked away.  The course was beautiful (although I heard last year there was snow on the ground) and I tried to make sure I savored the experience. There was plenty of aid stations but other then that it is not really a spectator friendly course – so for me it was a good test of using my own determination and mental toughness to get me throughthe miles.

The course is a “loop” so that meant  – another 2.5 miles of unpaved ruddy, muddy trail on the way back out of the park and to the finish to collect my medal.

I did not hit the time that Coach had put in place for me BUT I think if I had lined up in the front (a problem I need to work on) I would have been close.  I was tired when I finished but had a bit more left in the tank. I finished with an 8:21 pace overall and it makes me a bit more excited to see what I can do at the Cheshire Half Marathon on April 28th.

The Cool Down

Once I crossed the finish line (and high fived the MCM mascot) I headed over to grab my medal from a marine (which is nothing cooler), take a couple of post-race photos, grab some food and head to the shuttle bus back to the hotel to shower and relax.

Finisher’s Medals
Marines working hard!

We had a great day in Fredericksber, watching basketball and drinking beer but Sunday came way too soon.  I love running in VA and the surrounding area but driving back and forth basically takes up the entire day, so it was Take-Out and Netflix when we returned home.

I had until Tuesday to use my “Access Granted” link to enter the race, so I made sure I did it before I went to bed.  Monday afternoon – I received my “Confirmation” e-mail ensuring that I would be part of the Class of 2019.

Excited to see where my training the Summer will take me – 10 months to go!

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