2018 Marine Corps Marathon – Race Recap

I came.

Race Morning- Let’s Go!

I saw.

At the Expo – Such an Inspiring Wall!

I ate.

Post Marathon Nachos and Beer!

I ran.

I got a medal!

BUT most importantly – I crossed the finish line proud of how far I have come and happy that I remained pretty much injury-free this entire training cycle!

I know this recap of the 2018 Marine Corps Marathon is overdue – but I have been having a hard time putting into words what went down. If you could open up my head – a lot (I mean a lot) of thoughts would come out but to put those into coherent, readable sentences has been tough. So if there is some rambling in these paragraphs I apologize in advance.

Yes – for those of you who don’t know – I did finish the 2018 Marine Corps Marathon with a time of 3:53 – a respectable time but by no means what I was “supposed” to run – that goal of 3:45 passed me by (literally) around the National Mall.

That is not to say the weekend was no amazing – it was.

At the Expo – Picking Up  My Bib

From the time I got to the expo on Friday afternoon until the time we departed on Monday morning, I have to say I had a great race weekend. It’s just that the race did not go as expected – for as much as I planned to control all the variables that might have happened – I could not overcome the 2 things that got me in the end – dehydration and leg cramping.

Up until that point my main goal was to get to the race healthy. After being diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in the late Summer I vowed to do whatever was necessary to stop the flare (and pooping on literally every run) while still putting in the miles.  It was also one of the hottest Summers on record and my paces suffered from that as well. 

And yes – I did put in the miles this cycle BUT for a stretch of time I took most of my quality workouts to the track. (Side note – I don’t recommend running 17 miles on the track. The. Worst.).  And much as I love the track – it does not mimic road running in the least.

When I finally was able to get back on the road in mid-September, I had some good and not so good runs. Running the Hartford Half Marathon in October was a great mental boost (especially given the rainy and cool weather conditions) – but at the end, I remember telling myself that I had to run another 13.1 miles and thinking it was a daunting task.

However – heading down to DC I was excited and oddly calm. In talking with my coach the afternoon before the race – I even told him that I was confident in his plan and excited to see what happened the next day.  And I really was – until I wasn’t

I had already been to the expo and purchased enough Brooks gear to try and forget the fact that the race shirts were utterly horrible (if this was a ploy by Brooks to get runners to buy more of their gear – it worked!), had a nice Friday night meal of gluten-free seafood pasta and bread, and figured out logistics for race morning. We stayed in Arlington and after looking at my options decided to take the shuttle bus to the start – it was perfect. I was able to get up at 5am, get on the shuttle by 5:45 and be at the start ( and through security) by 6:15am.  I copped a squat and used the bathroom as much as time would allow.  

I have heard that many runners got stuck and ended up at the start after the race started and I could see why – many of the busses were filled with runners AND spectators BUT it also seemed like many of the runners just did not take into account that there were 30,000 runners all trying to get to the same place for the same start time. 

Walking to the start.

There is a lot of pomp and circumstance before the race – it’s quite a site – but before I knew it we were off. I had the race plan written on my arm, Honey Stinger gummies in my skirt and a water bottle that I was to keep with me for the first 45 minutes. The Marine Corps Marathon is called “The People’s Marathon” and that is a true statement. People lined every single inch of the course (although sometimes getting too close to the runners) a feeling I equate to running the NYC marathon. And if you don’t get a lump in your throat watching runner’s running for others, runner’s carrying flags or The Blue Mile – then there is something wrong with you.

I followed my nutrition plan (Honey Stinger Gummies every 30 minutes) and after 45 minutes decided it would be a good idea to hold on to that water bottle – yup I ran 26.2 miles with a water bottle. It actually was a good idea especially on ‘THE BRIDGE” the only unsupported portion on the course.  My stomach was doing well and the miles ticked away.

Mark provided great course support and I actually saw him after I headed into the National Mall – he had joked that I would never see him as I have my music blaring but as you can tell – I saw him!

I promise I did wave at Mark!

It was after I saw him the second time that I started feeling it – cramping in my quads and hamstrings and a dizzy feeling. I held on until about mile 20 but then it was a struggle to finish the final 6 miles. I cursed and hated everyone that passed me looking strong and confident. Although I did not get to the pit of despair that many runners speak about when they are struggling, I got close.

I just had to remind myself that the end was near and tried to remember all the miles and effort it took to get to the start line. The finish line is what you expect after you run 26.2 miles – an incline – YUCK. BUT I crossed and although I  did not want to take another step – I did it!

Mission Accomplished

Mark collected me in the Family Area and we joined the masses back to the Metro for the rest, recovery and BEER!

When I crossed the finish and saw my time – I will admit I was disappointed in myself but I don’t know anything else I could have done differently given my fitness.  As Coach told me months ago – you can’t outrun your fitness. I also thought I disappointed my coach and my husband (who got up uber early and with herniations in his back to support me on the course), but as runners I know we sometimes put so much pressure on ourselves (thanks to Social Media for that) that we forget about the bigger picture.  Thankfully – they both were proud of me 🙂

This made me smile!

BUT you know what – I exited this training cycle healthy and happy and really that is what it’s all about.

Yes – I would have loved to reach my goals but I will keep chasing them.  The marathon is a tricky beast – I have run 6 marathons and each time I have a new respect for the distance and those that toe the line.

I know what I need to work on in the coming weeks and months but for now it is time to “let my body absorb the training”, get back into the gym, take some Yoga classes and start thinking about what I want to accomplish next year.

Onward we go!



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