Marine Corps Marathon 2016
October 30, 2016
Temp: Low 60s and slightly overcast at the start, low 80s at the finish
What I wore: hat, MRTT MCM tank, Skirt Sports Happy Girl Skirt(this is an affiliate link), Crazy Compression socks, , and Altra Running One 2.5 (affiliate link). I carried a handheld water bottle, one GUs, a cut up rice krispy treat, and an extra nuun tablet. (Oh, and my metro card in case I decided that I needed to DNF.)
As I mentioned many times over the last few weeks, I was undertrained for the Marine Corps Marathon 2016 race, so my plan was to have as much fun as I could. I totally succeeded in my plan, but in a very different way than I thought I would.
Marine Corps Marathon 2016 Pre-Race
I was more than a little bit freaked out by the temperatures. I almost didn’t even take a throw away shirt to the start line. Yes, it was already that warm when we left the house at 5:45 am. Three of my friends had met us at my house and Beer Geek drove us quickly over to near the security entrance in Rosslyn. It was a super short walk to security and security went smoothly, but there was a much longer walk than previous years to get to the start line. To be honest, I’m not actually sure about the route as it was dark, but whatever, we got there and we had plenty of time.
I spent the next two hours hanging out with friends and making multiple visits to the porta potties.
I had a couple of different people that I was considering running with who I expected would run slower than I normally do (and thereby prevent me from going out too fast), but I wasn’t able to connect with them.
With minutes to go before the race, I connected with one of my Ragnar teammates and she said she’d run at my pace for the first three miles. I assumed she’d leave me around mile 3 and I’d find other people to chat with.
Somehow, in our search for friends, we ended up in the 4-4:30 start area. This wasn’t intentional, but it did put us across the start line 7 minutes after the gun went off. It also meant I went out a bit faster than I intended.
The start of the race is the hilliest part of MCM until the very end when you run up to Iwo Jima. That early in the race, it’s not that bad of a hill. It was still quite manageable even with the course changes that added a bit more hill. Just past mile 3, I saw the first of many MRTT cheer stations. I waved at friends and we headed towards the district. At this point, I was running my friend’s pace, not mine, so I suggested she go ahead without me. Instead, she slowed down to stay with me.
5K time: 33:05 (10:38 pace)
As we continued into the district, I enjoyed telling my friend about the course and talking about various things we saw. It was so different than running by myself and, after living here for 20 year and running MCM two other times, I had a lot to say LOL. The miles seemed to pass so quickly.
10K time: 1:05:34 (10:33 overall pace)
We headed up Rock Creek Parkway and then next thing we knew, we were headed back. It was weird to reach the Rock Creek Parkway turnaround so quickly. I know some people hate that section, but I’ve never had any issues with it. We then headed toward Hains Point and the Blue Mile. Along the way there, I heard a couple of shout outs from fellow MRTT moms, both on the sidelines and running the race. MCM may be huge, but it’s my hometown race, so I felt like I had friends everywhere.
15K time: 1:39:35 (10:41 overall pace)
So far, the weather was pretty pleasant. I was warm, but not dying, and I was happy alternating water and Gatorade at the water stops. I hadn’t really fueled at all yet, but I did have an orange slice along the way. Hains Point was up next. This is not a favorite part for a lot of people, but I don’t mind it and I appreciated the breezes this year. We ran past the Blue Mile and the tunnel of flags. It’s such a quiet part of the course, with the only sound being footsteps. I always find this part of the race so emotional. Eventually we rounded the point and headed toward downtown again.
I enjoyed reading all the signs as we ran. One sign said “Why did the T-Rex evolve with such short arms?” I assume it was a joke and I was so sad that the punchline was not included LOL. I ate a couple of bites of a Clif Shot that was handed at me – I have no memory of the flavor. Throughout this whole time, I kept trying to pull our pace back, but my legs felt good and I kept speeding up.
Halfway mark: 2:20:52 (10:44 overall pace)
At this point, I knew we were going too fast, but my friend and I decided we’d just keep up the pace for as long as we could. Knowing that the heat was just going to keep climbing motivated us to keep going. Before we knew it, we were coming up on the Gauntlet (the 15 mile point you had to pass by 12:38). We passed it with about a two hour cushion. We were still holding around a 10:40 pace when we were running, but we were taking longer at the water stops.
25K: 2:47:25 (10:46 overall pace)
The next part of the race passed the monuments and the “touristy” part of DC. This is always my favorite part of the race. I was still feeling pretty good but my foot was developing a hot spot and I could feel my Gu rubbing against my leg in my pocket. Both of us felt we could run strong until about mile 20, so we just kept on keeping on. I know I heard more yells from friends, but my memory and ability to do pace math was going. My friend mentioned that she’d never gone sub-5 in a marathon, so we set 5 hours as a loose goal.
30K: 3:22:18 (10:51 overall pace)
Finally, we got to the bridge. I made sure to drink at the water stop before it and refilled my handheld. It was starting to get warm and we were heading to zero shade. Unsurprisingly, the bridge sucked. I know we walked a little bit here, but I’m kind of vague on it. I felt pretty good, but was definitely tiring. I tried to eat a rice krispy bar, but only managed a couple of bites. I just couldn’t force it down.
I was super happy to see the end of the bridge, but not a fan of the next part: the Pentagon parking lot. Thankfully there was a water stop before we went too far there. My friend started feeling nauseous, so we walked most of the parking lot. I’m gonna be honest here – I hope that they take this part back out. It was boring, it was hot, and there was no shade. In fact, at one point, it felt like they were making us do endless loops. I was so happy to be out of that area.
35K: 4:02:32 (11:09 overall pace)
Somewhere between mile 21 and 22, we came upon an MRTT cheer station. This was the group from one of the chapters I belong to, so I knew a lot of the women.
I got a small cup of coke – heaven! and a bunch of ice to put in my bra. It was quite warm by this point, but I was still feeling ok. One of my friends offered me the rice krispy treat that I had asked her to bring, but I was just not able to eat food. We continued on through the rest of the Crystal City area.
There were more changes to the course in Crystal City. I was not a fan of the extra distance in that area and the tight out and backs. I was a HUGE fan of the water blowing fan that we ran past. By this point, I was dumping water on me any chance I got. I was also drinking a fair amount of Gatorade, but it was super sweet, so I was cutting it with water in my bottle. We ran past Long Bridge Park, where I pointed out the final Ragnar exchange from Ragnar DC. Finally, we headed up one more ramp and onto 110.
40K: 4:38:16 (11:11 overall pace)
The run up 110 is the hardest part of the course as far as I’m concerned (although there were definitely some close runners up this year). It’s a highway with nothing to look at and no shade.
I was feeling pretty ok at this point and we knew we had almost 20 minutes to get the 1.2 miles to the finish and come in under 5 hours. My friend was struggling with stomach issues, but there was no way I was leaving her after running together for 25 miles, so we threw in walk breaks as needed. Running the entire race with someone was a new and fun experience for me and I wanted to finish together. I also had an ulterior motive: I wanted a picture with the dudes in silkies at mile 26. Shortly before we got there, we saw one more of my friends. She offered us a variety of snacks, but we both just wanted to be done. And then I saw the silkies. I handed my friend my phone and ran up so she could snap my picture LOL.
After the photo op, it was a short, but steep .2 to the finish. We stormed the hill! OK, we ran as fast as our exhausted bodies would allow and finished the race.
Final time: 4:55:10!
- I ran way faster than I ever thought I could manage.
- I ran the entire race with a friend and most of it with a smile on my face.
- I never went to that dark place I sometimes go during tough races. I was happy the entire race.
- Wearing my MRTT shirt meant lots of on course shout outs.
- The MRTT water stop at mile 21. Love these girls and the ice I shoved into my bra.
- The crowd support for MCM is just amazing. It’s one of the best things about the course.
- The marines in silkies at mile 26. I have to confess that they were my motivation for at least the last mile.
- The wonderful marines and volunteers providing support on the course. I tried to thank everyone I encountered.
- The sandwich and beer that I had at Fireworks on my way home.
- It was really warm near the end. In fact, the entire race was a bit warmer than I would have liked.
- The re-routing of the course. I did not like the changes and am hopeful they’ll go back to the old course.
- I should have thrown away my Gu when I realized it was rubbing my leg. I have a large cut and substantial chafing from the corner.
- I have x-rated chafing in places I’ve never chafed before. I’m pretty sure it was from pouring so much water on myself when it got hot.
All in all, this was my most enjoyable Marine Corps Marathon. I executed it well AND I had fun. Mission accomplished!
Will I run it again? Someday. Probably not next year, but I know at some point I will succumb to the siren call of MCM. The hardest part of this race is the training through the Virginia summers. I love the race, but I’m not very good at training for it. But I’ve learned to never say never as I said I’d never run a another marathon after my first Marine Corps Marathon in 2008. I may also have said I’d never run a Marine Corps Marathon again after last year’s race. So, I’m keeping my options open.
For now, though, I’m going to work on resetting my eating habits and see if I can pick up the pace a bit. I’d also like to get back to a point where all of my clothes fit comfortably. I can’t seem to do that when I’m training for long distances.
My next big challenge isn’t until June, but you know I won’t last that long without a race or five.