Recap: 119th Boston Marathon

So life has been pretty busy since I ran Boston, but I hopped back on to write a new post & realized that even though I wrote up my entire recap for Boston a few days after, I never actually published it! Self fail. So here’s that post, unchanged, a month late. Oops?


 I AM A BOSTON MARATHONER!!!

Woo, got that off my chest. Final finish time was 3:45:54 for a pretty solid marathon. Now this recap is going to be all over the place, mostly because the day itself was crazy and partly because I’m not sure quite how to express it.

Fair warning: really long post ahead!

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Even the airport got some Boston Marathon flavor.

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Race Recap: Gasparilla Distance Classic Day 2 (Half Marathon & 8K)

I finished! Day 2 did not go quite as well as day 1 did. That said, I completed all 4 races so I’m happy. Though day 2 is definitely when I questioned my sanity for agreeing to do this.

Another early start to carpool out for the races. Met up with Jason, my running buddy, for day 2 and this time he remember his Garmin so we could technically say he was pacing me.

Almost donneeee!!

Almost donneeee!!

The Half Marathon

This year the half marathon had a modified start from previous years. So grateful for that! The previous start featured a 180 degree sharp u-turn a quarter mile in that cut the course from a 3 lane road to a one lane on ramp/bridge over to David Island. The new start location featured us taking a different bridge/ramp across to the island that had two lanes and was a straight shot with no sharp turns and funneling.

But the start! Once again our shiny yellow challenge bibs got us entrance into the front start area for seeded runners and teams. And again, it was warm and humid out. Ugh, not exactly ideal race conditions. Still, I decided to be crazy (against Jason’s advice) and chase after the 1:35 pace group. As a mini-reminder, my current half marathon PR is 1:36.

Our position so close to the start and my determination not to lose space getting shoved around helped us get moving without being crowded back in the field. So we pretty much got going for a lovely jaunt in the dark around Davis Island (my favorite part of the course besides the finish). The 1:35 pace group got up to speed and passed us, but we decided to hook in onto the end of the group and try to stay with.

Davis Island is about the first 5 miles of the course. I like it because it’s still dark out (so generally the coolest portion of the race), the roads are wide, there’s often entertainment in places (a guy juggling flaming batons!), and the random people on their front lawns drinking spiked coffee while cheering on runners. As Jason had never raced the half marathon at Gasparilla before, it was fun hearing his thoughts on the course as we went along.

We would yo-yo off the end of the pace group, usually after water stations, as we’d lose distance on them and then trek it a bit to catch back up. Then you cross a ramp back off Davis Island and it’s Bayshore all the way to the finish. By mile 6 I had started to lose steam and we began falling off the pace group a bit. But I kept going along, though after mile 3 it was only because I kept telling myself “mind over matter.” So true in running, most of the time.

By mile 8 I was done with attempting (and by that point, failing) to stick with the 1:35 pace group and told Jason so. He pretty much already knew it, but humored me anyways. From there, we had another mile on the water side of Bayshore before we swung onto the back side of the road to head back to the finish.

I lost a lot of speed and I knew it. Mad thanks for Jason running with me because he was constantly positive encouragement to keep going towards the finish. ‘Only 3 miles to go,’ etc. If it wasn’t for him, I would have been going a lot slower than the 8 minute miles we had been doing.

There was some positivity seeing members of the running group as we went along. Near the end we were passed by the 1:40 group and Jason pushed me to stay with them. I had admitted at the start that chasing a 1:35 was stupid (not that it stopped me) and realistically I wanted to get in under 1:40. Well, there was my chance for that.

Most of the pacer’s group went on ahead to break the time so there weren’t a lot of people surrounding us as we came into the last quarter mile. However, Matt (you sandbagger!!) looped past us within the last 0.2 miles and I was yelling at him. Stuff along the lines of “darn you!!!” and “come back here!” Pretty sure the spectators were definitely laughing at me.

Still, we finished solidly (not sure I’d say strongly) and I managed to make it exactly 1:40:00 on the half marathon. Huzzah! Of course, like the day before the heat had gone up and the humidity lessened only a little as the race went on (so happy we had cloud cover). So Jason and I had a fun trip to the med tent where I got to use my inhaler and relax for a bit with some cold water. I do like that the Gasparilla team had brought out mini hand towels that were kept in ice cold water and handed out to runners as they finished. Helped to throw that around your neck and let it cool you off.

So med tent trip completed, we headed off to grab our medals and change out our gear before the 8K. No PR this time around, but a solid enough time considering the challenge.

Distance-13.21 miles

Time-1:40:00

Pace-7:37

Place-234 overall, 2nd in my age group

Between Races

This time we headed back to the car (no tent today) and made use of the nearby CVS to change clothes and shoes. So glad I did this because the humidity was just killing me. We also found that I had two blisters that totally explained by it hurt so much to walk around. Of course, they were in strange places on my foot, to it was quite interesting to switch my socks and shoes. By this point, I just wanted the last race to be done.

The 8K

To sum the 8K up in just a few words, CRASH AND BUUUUURRRRRRNNNNNN! All caps, bold, and extended length intended.

Besides actually training for this challenge, I probably should have taken another gel or snack and more than just water between these two races. Jason had this illusion of grandeur that we’d be running 7:30s. In my mind, I knew we’d be lucky with 8:00 miles. By the time we lined up for the 8K start, I just wanted to finish.

We started out pretty solidly, even though the clouds had started to disappear and the sun coming out meant higher temps on top of the humidity. The first 3 miles actually went relatively well.

And then I hit the wall.

This one was significantly worse than when it happened during the Miami Marathon. (And in my blogging failure, I never actually recapped that race for you guys. Suffice to say, hitting the wall sucked.) I didn’t just slow down, my body full on said ‘stop.’ As shamed as I was to do it, especially with Jason being an awesome sport and staying with me, I had to walk.

This is something we struggle with at times (as athletes with a competitive spirit). I had to be realistic though. As much as I would have rather kept running, even if it was slowly, my level of hydration (or rather, dehydration) combined with the sun, heat, and humidity made it a possibility that I would pass out if I kept going like that. So I let go of my pride and move to the side to walk.

Jason, amazing running buddy, pacer, and friend that he is, stayed with me even though he could have easily kept going.

20140223_113347So we rotated between walking and very slow jogging. At the next water station, I walked through it and grabbed several cups of gatorate and water. I needed the calories and electrolytes just as much as the hydration from them. That was enough to give me a little boost and we ended up jogging the last 0.4 miles or so in.

Ironically, I was able to lengthen my stride a bit for a tiny bit of speed to finish. And what happened but one of my calves seized up and I nearly face planted. Once again, Jason to the rescue as he grabbed my arm before I could go down and pretty much dragged me to the finish. Okay, we more like hobbled since I did contribute to the movement, but still. Course, he let me go a few feet away and told me I had to finish on my own. Haha, you Jason, are a fun and terrible friend 😛

I finished! I made it across the line for 4 out of 4 races and claimed my 5th medal for completing the Gasparilla Ultra Challenge.

Distance-5.02 miles

Time-53:47

Pace-10:43

Place-1858 overall, 71st in my age group

Closing Day Two

Woohoo!! Even if I failed miserably in that last race, I finished! Completing these last two races to round out all four makes me feel so accomplished. The fact that I made myself finish that 8K even though I was fully prepared to collapse on the side of the road is not diminished at all by my less than stellar time.

I didn’t voice it (don’t want to be negative and all that) but I fully expected my body to decide enough was enough during the half marathon. Would I have liked to complete all 4 races competitively? Of course! Yet realism had to rule out and the facts were simple; I had not trained for this event.

Even being dead tired and with horribly sore feet (and muscles!) I enjoyed chatting with everyone post race. When all was said and done, I am super pleased with what I accomplished over this race weekend and I plan to do it again. Except this time, I’ll actually train for it and maybe I’ll be able to place for the women overall. I can dream at least!

So my totals for day two – 18.23 miles in 2:33:47.

100_4395Which rounds me out for the entire weekend to about 30.4 miles in 4:06:07. That puts my overall, average pace under 8:10 and let me place 65th out of 631 Ultra Challenge participants (and #8 of the women—I missed 3rd place for the ladies by about 13 minutes, which could be made up if I ran a good 8K). Definitely thinking I’ll be trying again next year.

So I close up my recap with the fact that I had a blast racing and seeing all my friends across the weekend. Major thanks to Jason for being my partner in crime for all 4 races, even when I wasn’t doing so great. You can pace for me any time! (I’d offer to pace for you, but you are mad faster than me.) Also, mug #3!!

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A Running Year in Review: 2013

be happyWhen I started this year off still bouncing back from 6 months off and physical therapy, there’s no way I could have imagined how it would go. The first half of the year took some time to gain steam and was my hardest struggle across 2013. Nothing seems more difficult than having to start from the beginning all over again.

Luckily I forced myself out of complacency by joining The Little Things for Cancer charity team to tackle the Marine Corps Marathon. Now there was a goal to work towards and no excuses.

That effort allowed me to stay strong as I worked back into shape and I celebrated it by taking part in I ❤ to Run‘s March challenge to run every day. That was definitely hard even if “easy” days were just one mile. March was topped off with my first 15K (race at least) ever in the Hot Chocolate San Diego 15K that went much better than I was expecting at the time. I got to set my first PR for it and did better than my training had predicted.

Coming off the positive vibes of the 15K saw me through the next few months as I worked to have a solid base in preparation for marathon training. Without a race near on the calender, hitting those 40 mile weeks consistently was difficult. Eventually I returned to Florida in June so that I could train with the group and coach who had been with me through the past 2 years.

The end of June saw the start of marathon training and the height of the Sunshine State’s summer. With a 3:40 time goal at MCM there could be no slacking just because of warm weather. Summer made me a bit wary of chasing a faster finish time since I trained through fall and winter for Miami, but being Type A and very competitive meant going for it anyways.

Proof that experience helps showed in the fact that handling the mileage load was easier this time around. It culminated with my highest week ever at 64 miles! That was kind of crazy for me as I always remember being the underachiever when I was younger. Marathon training went much better than the first time and I had a solid 18 weeks of running to prepare me for MCM.

I’m pleased (read: mad excited!) with all my running accomplishments this year, but nothing was more amazing than running the Marine Corps Marathon. From all the Marines on course to having a 26.2 mile sight seeing run, I was in awe of the entire experience. Only for it to get even better with a great race where I didn’t hit the wall. There was the thought that one day I would aim for a Boston qualifier, but I truthfully did not believe it would happen at this race.

What made it even sweeter was being able to share that accomplishment with running friends and my family. I’m not sure many other races will compare to having my mother travel up to D.C. just to see me run this race. Or to find out my father was constantly following the updates and posting to Facebook as I progressed through the race. The sheer amount of support from all of my family and friends leaves me without words to properly express my thanks.

Then I got to follow it up a month later with a PR and age group win at the Women’s Half Marathon running 3 minutes faster than my last PR. Huzzah! And of course, a week later letting the rest of my running friends race a half while I tackled the shorter 5K for another PR.

There may not have been a lot of races on my calender in 2013 but they were of such a high quality that I cannot complain. Without any doubt, I am happy with the path I’ve traveled this year.

happinessIf 2013 has taught me nothing else, it’s that there is always a little bit further you can go, a little more you can give, and what you are possible of may just surprise yourself. I wish you all great running and fun races in 2014. On to the new year!

Race Recap: 2013 Brandon 5K

Woot woot! That’s another PR under the belt for my 5K.

Official Time – 21:46

PhotoGrid_1386205949457Now I admit that 5Ks are a bit easier for me to PR because I run them so rarely. The last 5K I actually raced was over a year and a half ago. If I didn’t PR now, I’d be slightly worried (not really). But I managed by more than 45 seconds and took the top of my age group (not hard since most of them sleep in hehe).

Now I really like this particular race first because my running group puts it on. Second because it’s a small and local race. So there’s no crowded course and getting boxed in at a slower pace. Plus they do a half marathon as well and it’s the main draw. The 5K is more for slackers such as myself. I didn’t want to race halfs two weekends in a row and really did want to complete a 5K just so I could grab that faster PR.

The weather ended up being on our side with it overcast, foggy, and cool. There was even a bit of misting, though I couldn’t tell if that was from not quite rain or the fog. But it made the start and races pretty mild compared to some others. I placed myself near the front and ended up probably around 15 or 20 once we got out of the start rush.

Then I sort of settled in around a 7:00 pace and kept my eyes on the one girl ahead of me. I sort of know who she is and she’s fast – runs for her college and all – so I decided to settle a bit backwards of her and see what happens. Well she ended up taking it easier today and I could have entirely paced with her instead.

About the halfway point (this reminds me that 5Ks seem so short after aiming at halfs and full marathons), they had a water stop set up and some girls from the group were egging me on to catch her. I figured it was worth a try and so picked it up a bit to just start closing the gap. I managed to get closer and was probably only a few feet behind her when we passed the 3 mile point and the last push where she left me behind.

After chasing her for 1.5 miles I just didn’t have the staying power to match her kick in the last 0.1 mile or so. Still, I finished 2 seconds back from her to take 2nd place overall for the ladies in the 5K. That also gave me the age group win. Super pleased to have managed all that with a PR on the distance. I may not race them often now, but 5Ks give a bit of self-confidence since I run them so much faster now than I did in high school.

Race Recap: 2013 Women’s Running Half Marathon

Another PR!! So stoked!

Official Time – 1:36:02

That’s a new half marathon PR. And I broke it by more than 3 minutes! So super happy. Now onto the actual recap.

I'm in there. Somewhere.

I’m in there. Somewhere.

This is an awesome event that I love. It’s newer (only 5 years old here I think) and really targeted at the ladies (obviously) even though they definitely don’t discourage guys from taking part. It’s still sort of local and a little smaller even though it has picked up bigger sponsors. I ran it for the first time two years ago and set my then PR at the 2011 race. Last year I did the 5K instead since I had less than 2 months to train after physical therapy ended and I was cleared to run.

It’s a lovely course through St. Petersberg, going along the water and past Tropicana field. There aren’t really much in hills though there are quite a few turns, so it feels like a fast course to me (though it might not actually be one…). Only thing that throws me off on this course is you run on some sections of cobblestones, but they’re relatively short. The long one has a nice wide sidewalk you can jump onto.

Now I hadn’t run a half marathon since Gasparilla in March of 2012, before I was out for 6 months, and so I didn’t have a real gauge going into this race. What could I do? Sure, I’d run a 15K in March but I was in different shape then. And the Marine Corps Marathon went fantastic – but I know more about guessing your marathon finish time from a half, not a half time from a marathon. Can that even translate right? Since you can push harder on a half due to it being shorter.

Coming in with a PR that was 1:39 and knowing my physical condition was way better off MCM than it was off Miami last year, I decided to shoot high for a 1:35. That’s a 7:15 pace and I admit, I wasn’t sure if that was gonna be doable for me over 13.1 miles. But I was going to try.

Luckily there was a 1:35 pace group for this race. Even better is that members of my running group, the Brandon Running Association, were dragged into being the pacers. So it was someone I know! Josh, who is ridiculously fast, got stuck with a group of us and it was quite amusing. The temps were a little cooler, so that was perfect. It was even overcast so no hot sun beating down. However, it seems to make up for that the weather threw some crazy winds at us – some gusts made it feel like you had to tuck in behind someone to keep going.

The first mile was a bit slower than pace, but then we settled in and had an amusing time for the next few miles. I actually felt quite solid and like I could stay on that 7:15 pace. But then I started to feel the pace further along near mile 7. We’d been fighting the wind even more the last few miles and 8 ended up being slow. Not sure if it was the best choice, but I decided to try pushing ahead closer to a 7:00 pace in an attempt to still make 1:35.

Unfortunately, I just couldn’t do 7:00s. I kept it close to the 7:15 but from about mile 9 on you run on a wide open road. There’s nothing to slow the wind and so this is the area that I struggled the most. The threat of rain, though it ended up just being clouds, meant there weren’t as many spectators along this stretch until you get closer to the finish. Also, the size and targeting of the race means it’s generally not a super fast field. So I knew the runners were spread out this far in the front. The next girl ahead was probably a good 250 feet and the immediate runners behind me were from the pace group.

Not having runners to either pull me along or push me forward was unusual for me. I’ve done well, but I’ve never really been “fast.” Additionally, most races have a good mix of girls and guys running it, so even if I end up being faster of the females there’s plenty of guys to pace off of. The WHM is different and this is the first time my struggle had to happen knowing I was near the front of the race. It was weird, but I definitely think I came out better experienced from it.

So while I couldn’t do the 7:00s, I could do the 7:15s and brought myself into the finish. I couldn’t close the gap to the girl ahead, but did manage to put enough space that no one caught me. Finished strong with the last mile being my fastest at 7:02 (obviously I still had a little gas in the tank) and woohooo for a PR!! Even if I did need a little help walking away from the finish while I fished out my inhaler.

So the final tally. A new PR at 1:36:02. Placed 16th overall and 13th of the women. Took first in my age group by 4 minutes. We’re still waiting on the team results, but according to one of our spectator friends, the first 5 runners on our team came in under 1:39, so I’m pretty sure the team will take the win for the 3rd year in a row.

I am mad excited! While I didn’t hit the 1:35, I got damn close. Still set a sweet PR and now I can chase that 1:35 in the future. I couldn’t dream of a better half considering the shape I’m in and the great race I had at MCM. Now I had another! Me = happy.

2013 Marine Corps Marathon Recap

I RAN A BQ!!!!

Oh, and it was also a PR by nearly 17 minutes (my first marathon time was 3:50:41). That’s exciting too, but not as much as a Boston qualifier!

Official finish time – 3:33:23.

The entire race weekend was amazing and the experience of running the 38th Marine Corps Marathon will be hard to beat. This one will be a brief overview of the weekend, mostly focused on the race itself.

20131025_145741I flew in early on Friday morning to hit up the expo for my packet and grab all the goodies I wanted. It was packed full of people and quite cold (for this Florida raised girl). But alternating from sun to shade while waiting in line kept my from getting too chilly. The packet pick-up itself was swift and off I went into the expo. Besides spending way more than I probably needed, I enjoyed running into some friends. Josh and Justin from the running group were two of them, while Scott one of my DailyMile buddies was another.

I enjoyed all the signs hung up and definitely got pictures of each of them.20131025_120304

Saturday was another adventure of a short run to shake out the legs and test my tolerance to the cold. The run felt good and I wasn’t quite as affected after the first half mile as I expected which boded well for race day. After a quick and warm breakfast, the mother—who was amazing enough to travel up to support me in the race— and myself rented some bikes to check out part of the course and her best options for spectator points. What followed was an adventurous few hours of consulting course maps, area maps, getting turned around, and enjoying the sights.

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The day was followed by a lazy and relaxing afternoon about the hotel and it’s lobby. One fun thing about race weekends is most people you see in the hotel are also there to race! So I got to take part in some fun conversations and learn some stuff about the course from a variety of strangers. Then it was time to meet up with the charity team for our pre-race dinner and shenanigans. By the way, the food was delicious! I only knew a few members of the group, so it was fun to finally meet in person many of the individuals I’d chatted with about training on the Facebook group page.

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There was a good amount of silliness and a lot of volume to the dinner. Of course, no charity team is complete without their own picture! The Little Things 4 Cancer reps Wendy and Stephanie gave awesome speeches that let me know they really felt touched by the effort of our team which raised nearly $31,000. A fun evening all around.

The night before is always early after all the gear has been looked over, prepped, and set out in order of necessity. Then it was to bed where I admit to waking up just a few times thinking I had overslept.

100_4281Race morning was damn cold, but the misery was shared with friends and family. We headed out for a quick walk to the metro and then an extra long walk around the Pentagon to the staging area. I spent the entire time cold.

Once I made it into the corrals, it wasn’t quite as bad since all the bodies generated some warmth. It was awesome to hear the a capella version of the National Anthem while parajumpers descended with huge American flags. A beautiful way to get me pumped up even more and ready for the race to start.

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I ended up placed a bit behind the 3:45 pace group (not my intention at all) and so a bit further back than I planned. However, it wasn’t too bad as the first 2 miles were severely crowded and I would have had to dodge people to get up to pace regardless. Fear not, there was no starting out too fast for me with the crowds in this race.

The course is beautiful with fall colors and all the sights through Arlington, Georgetown, and the memorials of Washington, D.C.

It was cold – low 40s at the start and while it did make the 50s near the finish we had to deal with some chilly winds and cloud cover through the middle. While I didn’t exactly want the first 2 miles as slow as they were, it was a lot of fun dodging around people while taking in the course and spectators. I especially liked the point about a mile in where they had a U.S. flag hanging over the middle of the course, just low enough that if you had the height or a good jump you could brush it with your fingers (which of course I did).

100_4313The atmosphere was AMAZING. Passing retired veterans carrying flags in a diamond formation for each of their services, with a U.S. flag as point- and rear-guards. Individual military members and units taking on the marathon in full gear. There was no lack of inspiration or motivation across the full 26.2 miles. Plus just the sheer amount of spectators and on course entertainment (from regular bands to marching bands to drum lines). I settled into my pace by mile 4 (and also dropped all my throwaways) and just enjoyed everything I could see.

Around mile 11 I got to see my mom and that was a sweet boost. Then we hit the 13-16 mile area which is Hains Point. That was very emotional. This portion of the course has the least amount of spectators which I felt was appropriate for what was placed there. On the left side of the course every few feet were the pictures of each Marine killed in action. As the ‘quiet’ portion of the race, there was a respectful reverence for those who have given their lives in service to our country. And to help balance that, the right side of the course had posters set up with the usual race sayings from the motivational to the funny. It helped me keep from fully breaking into tears to glance from one side to another, to mix those runner sayings in with each picture I passed.

Then the course swung you full on into the National Mall and once again the course was lined with spectators and all the beautiful monuments, memorials, and museums that make up our capital. I really enjoyed just looking around me for the next few miles especially because it was so different from my last visit. There weren’t many tourists out crowding the sights—most people were bunched up on the course cheering on runners. So the view of the buildings and their architecture was largely clear and very nice. Especially the swing in front of the capital building which offered a fantastic view on approach for the runners and a sweet backdrop for pictures once we turned around.

Then it was across another bridge into Crystal City where I got to see Beth of Discombobulated Running in her cheering costume (which was absolutely hysterical). I think of the entire course that Crystal City was my least favorite. Partially due to it being the last area before you make it back to the Pentagon towards the finish and mostly because the roads there weren’t as well cared for as the rest of the course. But I made it through the torturous miles 20-24 with legs that were burning.

Thanks to where I ended up in the starting area, besides starting behind the 3:45 pace group (who I passed in the first half mile), I had no gauge for when I crossed the start line in relation to the gun or where exactly I was placed. Luckily, I actually didn’t think too hard on it until I reached mile 25. Then my not-questions were answered. Right at the mile 25 marker I caught the 3:35 pace group. Also amazing, Beth had managed to trek from the start of the bridge on the Washington, D.C., side at mile 20 to the ramp next to the Pentagon and Route 110 (to the finish) a mere 20 feet after the 25 mile marker. It was great encouragement not only to see her a second time, but to have her screaming “BQ!!” at me as I caught the end of the pace group and began my pass.

While that highway that made up the last mile was a mental challenge due to seeing a seemingly endless sea of runners, I had my boost thanks to Beth. I kept pace and passed many others who were losing steam. The last half mile was most amazing because of the crazy amount of spectators. They were ranged on both sides of the course as far as 3/4s of a mile from the finish, packed in and cheering loudly.

A girl with one of my favorite signs (a star symbol with the words “touch here for power” much like these two) got a tap from me as I went by. Near the end and just before I passed the 26 mile marker and turned to take the hill, I could hear my mother cheering. I couldn’t see her in the dense crowd, but being able to make out her voice was a relief. Any and all spectators are such a boost during a race, but having it be someone you know and so close to the finish just helps to dredge up that last bit of reserve, that last bit of strength, to make it to the end.

Once again I was dodging runners who had already emptied their tank, but I took that hill like the race had just started. Though there was definitely some dismay to realize I still had a few hundred feet to go once I reached the top. But I did! I crossed the line as the clock was breaking 3:36. I had done it! Months of preparation had awarded me an awesome race.

20131027_140424There was some stumbling and helping hands after I crossed the line. I offered my thanks for their service to the Marines I passed as I continued upwards to receive the totally awesome finisher’s medal. I had to wobble and take the stairs very, very slowly but I got myself up to the Marine Corps War Memorial for a finisher’s picture with my medal and a huge smile. It was only after that I finally had the courage to look at my Garmin and see my finish time.

I cried! Even if it wasn’t exact, my watch said 3:33:32 and the difference couldn’t be so great as to deny me the 3:35 that would be a Boston qualifier. I spent all of training trying so hard NOT to put the pressure of attempting a qualifier on my shoulders. I wanted a great race, a PR, and to break 3:40. Anything more than that would be a pleasant bonus. So the fact that it happened deserved at least a few tears.

After that it was the usual post race of picking up water, gatorade, snacks, and making my way to meet family. My mother was waiting for me as I exited the finish area and I admit to a few more tears as I hugged her. We spent a bit of time in the finisher’s festival, but my legs were shot and I was looking forward to food and a shower. As luck would have it, I ran into Beth a third time and got to chat with her a bit.

Without a doubt, I would recommend this race to any and everyone. Not only is it a fantastic course with tons of spectator support, but the military and volunteers were great. The Marines, volunteers, and other service members all across the course at water stops, aid stations, and more were simply amazing. I never felt like any of them didn’t want to be there or weren’t excited for what each and every runner was trying to accomplish. Plus it’s like your own mini-tour of the capital and surrounding areas. And starting with 2014, they’ll be doing a lottery registration. Probably the only thing I wish I’d done differently was take a camera, but I’m too competitive to slow down or stop to snap pictures.

To talk briefly of strategy I think the main difference, besides the temperatures, in this race from my first marathon was that I took advantage of every water stop. I alternated taking e-caps and eating gels; made sure I got water at every stop even if I wasn’t consuming something or felt good. While I did skip the Dunkin Donuts stop, I grabbed some sports beans (as I lost one gel around mile 8) to fill the gap. As a result (at least in my mind) I didn’t hit the wall this time. My legs were definitely protesting, especially after the hills in the first 10 miles, and I could feel the burn of activity, more than ever after mile 20. But as some signs say, what wall?! I don’t see no wall!

So now I look on to future races and the possibility of Boston in 2015 (insert squee of excitement). I leave you with some numbers and more pictures. And yes, I did negative split! Huzzah!

Average Pace – 8:08
1st half – 1:48:30
2nd half – 1:44:53

MCM Training: Week 17/18

Annnnnnnddddddd it’s almost time! Now instead of worrying about other things, I can worry about packing and forgetting stuff! That’s 17/18 out of the way.

mcm - 1 week

Total Miles: 41

Hills: 7.22 miles

6×1.0mi – 8:04, 7:57, 7:54, 7:56, 7:56, 7:56

Less miles doesn’t mean less effort! Especially since I had to work off that ice cream I ate after lunch. Oops.

Intervals: 7.12 miles

7×800 – 3:29, 3:26, 3:28, 3:25, 3:27, 3:28, 3:15

Closing up the speed work for this training cycle, and not too shabby on the consistency this time. Early AM run with 2 others who are different paces, so these were on my own. Wasn’t sure if I’d pull the last one in faster but managed. It felt good and not too difficult.

Long Run: 10.51 miles @ 8:17 pace

If you can even call it a long run after the last 4 months of training. Felt good the whole way and like I was barely trying as conversation was easy. Hoofed it in to simulate race day strategy.

Now it’s just taking it easy in to race day. Less than a week to go! Except, ugh, packing.