Marine Corps Marathon Race Report

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Overall time: 5:49:33, PR of 8:03

So here’s how the whole weekend went…

I had planned to work until noon on Thursday, as our flight didn’t leave until nearly four. I switched shifts with Janice, one of my colleagues, and was to go in at 7:30 a.m. instead of my customary 9:30 or 10:30 start. But by the time everyone got into the office by 10:30, I was too excited to sit in my chair and do any work whatsoever. So my boss Irene said I could leave early. We had a group hug (a silly group hug, not a cheesy group hug) and I left at around 11. I had packed the night before, but I repacked that morning, just to make sure I wasn’t bringing too much stuff, and to make sure I brought the right stuff. Fortunately, I didn’t have any problems forgetting anything vital. And I still had plenty of room to pack my IKEA purchases.

Lindsay drove George and me to the airport, my mom and Alice met us there. Checked in, blah blah blah, nothing exciting to say about our journey to DC. Kristina and Anne picked up George and me and Jenny (my sister) picked up Mom and Alice. George and I stayed at Kristina’s that night (I’d say “slept there” but Kristina’s cat is pretty erm, energetic, so sleep wasn’t really an option.) The next morning, we went with Kristina to her office, then George and I met Jenny, Mom, and Alice at Jenny’s office to go on a Capital tour. Nothing terribly exciting about that, either. Pretty building. Blah blah.

George and I went to the Air and Space Museum (Smithsonian) after lunch but didn’t stay too too long as we were both exhausted from lack of sleep. Made it to the Hyatt, where I was staying, and checked in, rested, went to the expo. Got my number. Yay!

Met everyone for dinner at an Asian restaurant in Cleveland Park, wherever that is. Somewhere near where Kristina lives, which is near Georgetown. Whatever. Kristina brought me to my hotel while everyone else went to an Irish pub across the street. Slept reasonably well that night.

Saturday morning, Peggy and I got up early for a meeting with our TNT people and a short group run. Naturally, Peggy and I were the slowest of the bunch, but the run went well. My ankle barely hurt, and the run really helped my confidence. The weather was nice and cool, which I hoped would hold for the marathon. After that, we went back to the expo, I got a few running shirts (courtesy of my mom) and then we had a TNT pasta lunch. The Penguin guy was the speaker. He was funny. The food was fine, ate some pasta, ate some bread, drank lots of water.

After lunch, Kristina came and picked me up for a trip to Woodbridge to see a friend, and then to IKEA. Yeah! Bought lots of cool stuff, for like 20 bucks, total. It’s now in my suitcase, hopefully making its merry way to my house. Afterwards, Kristina and I went to my sister and her boyfriend Rob’s house in Fairfax for dinner. Everyone else was quite buzzed on wine, which is always entertaining as the sole sober person (except for Kristina, because she had to drive me back to the hotel.) It was a pretty calm evening, and afterwards Kristina drove me back to the hotel. The clocks went back an hour that night, which was great because we were able to get plenty of sleep. Well, it wasn’t perfect sleep, there was a bit of tossing and turning, no surprise there.

Got up at 5:15, got dressed and went downstairs to catch the TNT shuttle. The temperature was already around 60 degrees. Faaaaaaaantastic. I think it was probably cooler in New Orleans. Sheesh. I was profoundly irritated at my luck. Never again will I make the mistake of thinking that Washington DC will be cold in late October. Grrr. Yeah. Just because it was 48 degrees on Friday…why in the world wouldn’t it be 60 degrees with 90% humidity?

Made it to the start around 6:45. Dropped off baggage. Found Ren! Went to the bathroom. I tried to time it so I wouldn’t have to pee when the race started, but of course I did. Thank goodness the people in our 5:30-5:59 corral didn’t move for 20 minutes, so I was able to pee one last time before we started. Peggy and I positioned ourselves with the 5:30 Galloway pace group. I thought we could stay with them, they were doing a 3:1 run/walk, and we’d done 6:1 in training, but as it turns out we lost them almost immediately. Not sure how we got ahead of them, but I don’t trust those Galloway people anymore! (But I’ll still run and walk, don’t get me wrong.)

Now I’m going to try to remember every mile…Keep in mind, to run at 5:30, our pace should have been 12:36 per mile.

Mile 1 (12:10) Ooops, too fast. Where is the Galloway pacer?

Mile 2 (13:13) Maybe if we slow down a little we’ll find him. Here we meet Jane and Kay, two older and very cool ladies who were also trying to stick with the 5:30 pace group. We managed to stick together for quite a while. Jane is a breast cancer survivor – she had it last year! We lost her about ten miles into the race, but I was pleased to find that she did finish, right around when Peggy finished. Kay finished a bit later, I’m also pleased to see from the results. I was a little worried about her because we caught up to her during the Rock Creek Park stretch, but then lost her again.

Mile 3 (12:32) Well, on a better pace, at least. Whose idea was it to run around the Pentagon? Ah well, at least I got to see it.

Mile 4 (13:08) First water stop, plus it’s uphill to get to it. Cruel!

Mile 5 (11:44) Oooh, here’s the downhill, plus a little extra running to try to catch that dang pacer.

Mile 6 (12:29) Better pace. Probably a downhill here too.

Mile 7 (13:19) Saw Mom, Jenny, and George here. And they took a picture. Look how fresh I am!
Lots of spectators here because it passes right by the start/finish area.

Mile 8 (13:19) Used the restroom here. Right before we saw Kristina and Anne and Rachel for the first time. That was awesome. (Both finding a free portalet *and* seeing friends.) The girls were holding up a sign provided by Tylenol that they had written “Go Pam and Peggy” on, and were photographed by the Tylenol people holding it. Maybe we’ll all be famous!

Mile 9 (12:08) Up into Rock Creek Park. It was gorgeous here, lots of red and yellow leaves fluttering through the air. I spent part of the time trying to catch a leaf. Got one, and was going to save it, but accidentally crumpled it later. Oops.

Mile 10 (13:16) Rock Creek Park…Kay (the woman from Oklahoma City we met at the beginning) caught up with us here (or vice-versa, I can’t remember) while running with her son. What a great guy – he was way ahead of her when he saw her on the out-and-back part, but stopped to run with her, losing a lot of time in the process. Lovely. He just wanted his mom to do well.

Mile 11 (12:44) Turn around (and a mini-downhill) at this point. Was hoping I’d see Devra (a friend) here, as she lives nearby. But I was so stressed and busy in the days before the race that I neglected to call her and see if she was going to come out. So any disappointment I felt was my own fault. But at least the scenery was gorgeous here, that always helps. Also looking for Ren behind me, as we were now on the back part of the out-and-back. Don’t see her, so I’m worried. But I needn’t have been, because here she is when my sister saw her. Doesn’t she look cheerful? Well, appearances can be deceiving because this is when she was cursing me.

Mile 12 (12:36) Saw Kristina and Anne and Rachel again at the end of this mile, as we were leaving Rock Creek Park. Yay!

Mile 13 (13:36) Kind of a boring part. Goes by the Potomac, which was pretty, but not much support here. I think this is where Peggy started to feel nauseous. Or at least where she admitted it to me. There was a pretty strong headwind here, too, which didn’t help.

Mile 13.1 – overall time 2:47. Pretty well on pace for 5:30 race. Also when the sun comes out and Peggy starts to slow down. But let me say here, I may complain now that we walked too much, but I never really complain at the time about walking. I am fundamentally very lazy, and I like to walk. So when she said “can we walk?” I almost always said “yes” because that’s easier! However, had I been running alone, I probably would have tried harder to stick with the 3:1. Or at least not gone out too fast. I hope. The halfway point came right as we turned onto Constitution Avenue, a long stretch with nice scenery, spotty support, and most torturously of all, trucks lining the street selling hot dogs and hamburgers. I was hungry.

Mile 14 (13:14) Stuck my tongue out at the White House. Blew GW a raspberry.

Mile 15 (14:52) Going up to the Capital. Sun was out. Hot.

Mile 16 (14:36) Up Capitol Hill. Enough said.

Mile 17 (14:28) Down Capitol Hill. Much better. (In feeling, anyway. Time was only marginally better.)

Mile 18 (13:40) I remarked to Peggy that mile 18 feels like a landmark, even though it really isn’t. She grimaced at me, I suppose to stop herself from vomiting all over me. Kristina, Anne, and Rachel were here, and a bit further down, George. Yay! They gave us water bottles whenever we saw them, which was great. Not so much for drinking, more for pouring on our arms, legs, and head. Refreshing.

Mile 19 (13:16) Someone hands me a Starburst sucker. I love this person. We go over a few little bridges now and run around the Tidal Basin, whatever that is. The 14th Street bridge is tantalizingly in view, and though there was no question about making it in time, now that we can see it, it’s a bit more real. More strong headwind here. Evil! Go over some small bridges.

Mile 20 (13:04) I loved this part. Mile 20! The teens are done with! The road narrows here, we catch a high-five from some supporters. Always nice.

Mile 21 (14:36) The evil 14th Street Bridge. The one the slowpokes like myself worry about. But we made it in plenty of time. However, it’s long, dull, and had a vicious headwind. We walked a lot of this mile, and of…

Mile 22 (14:31), still the bridge. Evil! Evil! The flabby, soft underside of my arms is chafing. Ow. Stop to ask everyone on the side (aid & rescue people) for vaseline, no one has any. One aid guy says “wow, next time I’ll know to bring vaseline and nail clippers…” and goes on to list more seemingly obvious things. What did he have? A bunch of band-aids? Yeesh.

Mile 23 (14:21) My last mile with Peggy. We got chocolate chip cookies during this mile. Mmmmm! Soft, chewy, delicious Nestle Tollhouse cookies. Like manna from heaven, they were. Gorgeous. Peggy wasn’t feeling too hot after the cookie break, so she insisted I go on without her. I briefly grappled with my conscience, but ran on ahead. She said she didn’t think she’d be able to run much more.

Mile 24 (13:34) A cruelly dull portion of the race, just when you need support. Through the parking lots of the Pentagon. Who thought of this? I manage to get back on the 3:1 ratio again here, though I’m tiring.

Mile 25 (13:11) Water stop here, more dull dull scenery. Until the last half of the mile, when you start to see people again. A great pick-me-up. This is when my stomach gets butterflies. When I start to gasp and nearly sob. Everyone’s calling my name. Try to at least do 2:1 here. Maybe 1:1. Hard to run while gasping for breath and tummy is in knots.

Mile 26 (13:26) Allllmooooosssst there….still struggling with emotions, until I hit the evil hill at, oh, around 25.8. I really couldn’t believe it. It’s very wrong. My emotions turned from excitement to anger at the jerk who designed this racecourse. My energy is nearly sapped. But I know there isn’t much further to go. I see Denise, a TNT runner that we did our 20 miler with. I see Kristina, Anne, and Rachel.

Mile 26.2 (2:18) Sooooo close….I can see the finish line. Just as I’m approaching it, I hear my name being screamed by my mom, Jenny, George, Alice, Rob…and I turn to them and turn into monster lady. I yell “JUST LET ME FINISH!!!” and then turn and smile big for the camera as I cross the line. I was able to give a strong kick at the end, no thanks to evil hill. I apologize later for my annoyance at my supporters. They love me, they understand.

Get my medal, picture taken, blanket, etc, etc. Bananas and bagels and not much else in the finisher’s tent. Hmmph. Pick up my baggage and find my family. Yay! Go to the TNT tent, then the VIP tent to have a yummy sandwich and to attempt to see Peggy cross the finish line. I check the results on the handy-dandy computer there in the VIP tent and find that she’s already finished, 7 minutes after me.

About an hour later, finally see Ren cross the finish line. I was very worried that she wouldn’t make it. Apparently when Kristina and Anne saw her at mile 8 (and then later at 18), she was cursing Gary and I strongly. When we found her after the race, she was sobbing, partially out of happiness…she said “I’m so glad I never have to run again!”

Am pleased that I didn’t hit the wall. Glad I didn’t get blisters. My toenails are a-okay. I came through this marathon unscathed, except for a little chafing on my tummy where the pouch I was wearing clipped on to my shorts. (Boy was that pouch annoying. I didn’t train with it, duh… I was able to give it to Anne after 12 miles, at least.) My ankle stopped hurting during the marathon (thanks to the anti-inflammatory I popped like M&Ms) and hasn’t hurt since. Figures.

On the other hand, I wish I had insisted to Peggy that we slow down at the beginning. I knew we were going too fast. But I didn’t slow us down. I didn’t say anything. I wanted to find those dang Galloway pacers too! How disorganized of them to be *behind* us. How in the world did we pass them? Why are they only at the beginning of the pace group? Why not sprinkled throughout? There were a lot of people wearing the 5:30 pace tags on their backs, most of them had lost the leaders.

Next marathon? Maybe a spring 2005 marathon. For now, though, I think I’ll concentrate on 1. losing weight, 2. getting faster at shorter races. Hey, I think if you look at my post race report for London, I probably said the same stuff. Ha ha!

Final Stats:

10K – 1:17:56

Half – 2:47:35

21M – 4:38:09

Pace – 13:20

ClockTime – 06:08:30

ChipTime – 05:49:33

OverAll – 14115

OverSex – 5144

OverDiv – 1098