Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Marine Corps Marathon 2010 - My Story

For some of you, perhaps that it is no big deal. You've done many. For me it is a big deal. I am proud, even if I didn't meet my "in my head" time goal. There is always next time. Yep I went there...this will not be my only marathon. Imagine, I once said out loud to many people, "I will never do a marathon". ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Never say Never. Oh, endurance sports you are so addicting.

It was a weird day overall for me and so much of it is a blur. I tend to be very focused when training or in an event. I miss most of what is going on around me. Is that good or bad? I have no idea. I get the same way when I am reading a book or listening to music. I totally focus on what is going on in the story or listen to all the parts of song. Anyway, here is the tale of the weekend and the actual race.
The weekend of the marathon was quite an event in itself. It started with new friends Sarah (@sarahthequeen1) and Ashley (@ashinmo) arriving at National Airport on Friday. I had never met either of these women in person and I had invited them to stay at my house for part of the weekend. Fun! It was extra special too, as this was Sarah's first trip to DC. I picked them up and we went to the MCM Expo at the convention center, after a quick driving tour of the monuments. After the Expo, we headed out to Dulles Airport to pick up Penny (@southbaygirl). Penny and I have known each other since undergraduate school. We were on the same floor in Hess Hall our freshman year and we shared an apartment our senior year at UTK. The last time we had seen each other was in Nashville, when we met to run the Country Music Half Marathon in 2008. That was my first half marathon. Penny talked me into that and then she talked me into the Marine Corps Marathon. She is good at pushing running. I got myself in to triathlon. ;-p
After picking up Penny, we headed over to the tweet up that Kirsten (@ultrarunnergirl) had put together. It was great to meet some of the people that I chat with regularly on twitter - you all know who you are if you are reading this post. After the tweet up it we hit P.F. Changs for a late dinner and then we were back at my place and off to sleep.
Saturday, we all got up and headed downtown to check into the hotel. We hit the Expo again and then Sarah and Ashley headed out to do some sight-seeing and Penny and I went to the DC gathering place of UT alumni to watch the UT Football game and eat lunch. Then after Jen (@jenzenator) arrived at the hotel, it was time for another tweet up back at the Expo. Again a good time getting to chat more and meet additional with twitter friends, including my coach, Josh (@speedysasquatch). After the tweet up it was back to the hotel and then off to dinner, then to bed. We all had to get up early!
I don't think I was nervous about the marathon, maybe excited and a little nervous - either way just like with any of my triathlons, I slept like crap the night before. The streets around the hotel were noisy too. On Sunday morning we were up at 5 am and getting ready to run. I ate my normal pre-run breakfast of oatmeal, banana, cup of coffee, and some water. We all got dressed and we headed out. We took the metro over to the start. It was a seemingly longish walk from metro, through the security check point, to the port-o-potties and bag check vans, and finally to the starting line. We hopped in the port-o-john line first, then hung out by bag check for a bit. I drank my coconut water, finally checked my bag and was back to the port-o-john line before heading to the start. People were lining up with the corrals by time, but in the wrong spot, so then we all had to move. In the move, I lost site of the pace person for 5:30. boo!
Finally, the race started. I got over the start line about 35 minutes after the race started. I had Santa Claus starting near me. I was surprised by the amount of people in costume. I wonder if they trained in them? Between the last potty stop and getting to the finish line. I lost Penny. After the start though, I found her. We stayed together for a bit, then I went on. Of course, I felt like I had to pee from the moment I got in the corral. Around mile 4 there were port-o-johns, so I stopped for a bit of relief. Little did I know that I would do more than pee. Ugh. I didn't want that to start happening. Stupid intestines and colon. I did feel better after the potty stop, but later in the run, my intestines and colon would be talking to me again.
Again, the race is much of a blur for me. I do know that I had a hard time settling into a pace where I was happy in the beginning and I even did a little run/walk during the first half. I think mentally I was trying to keep my pace down because I was worrying about going out to fast, but I think overall I just messed with myself completely. I kept on going. Running through Georgetown was fun and loud and a good pick me up for that point. Some where around the end of Haines point and heading out onto the mall, I starting feeling really gross in my stomach. Adding to the misery, my unpredictable nerve pain in my feet decided to make an appearance too. Really?!?! My feet felt like they were on FIRE and it HURT! After having some ups and downs during training with these same issues, I really did hope they would not make an appearance on race day. Not so lucky. But as I tend to do, I kept on going. I was finishing today, no-matter-what !!! Down the mall, past the Capital, back up the mall. I was struggling here. Then hey - I see Penny! She had been faithfully keeping her pace and there she was again. I was happy to find a friend in the sea of strangers. So we turn onto 14th Street and I tell her -we are beating the bridge... this is it! Thankfully, Penny had some Tylenol in her camelbak and still had some nuun water in it. I took the Tylenol and as we walked a good portion of the bridge, Penny's toes were hurting, ate some m&m's, I started to feel a little better. That bridge seemed like forever. As well as miles 22-26. The highlight of miles 22-26 was beer, candy and more beer! The hashers were handing out dixie cups of beer and several groups were handing out candy (Annapolis Striders - Thanks Ann! @brennanannie). And Penny had a twitter friend Dee (@deefsu) that was waiting for her to hand her a beer. I got to share some of that. :-) Thanks Dee. It helped! We continued past the Pentagon and I got to see another twitter friend that was cheering, it was Keith Dunn (@keithdunn) in his kilt. We were almost done. Once I saw the person with the sign that said 26 miles, I had total blinders on. I don't remember anything about the finish accept seeing some Marines as I turned the corner to start up the hill and I could hear people clapping and cheering, but I was just focused on getting to the finish line. And then it was there!
I got my medal, got my pictures, food bag and headed for a port-o-potty. Glorious!!
Official time 6:10:59 My first marathon. I think I have a 5-5:30 hour finish in me based on my training this summer. BUT - You never know what you are going to get on race day - be it weather, physical or mental issues - and with my stupid myelin damaged body, you really don't know -add a cranky digestive system and it can all go crazy.
I think once I start training again for the next triathlon and other things in 2011, I would like to pay a little more attention to nutrition and elimination issues as I go through training as I think that different eating and schedule in taper week, could have prevented the digestive issues on race day.
OVERALL I am still stoked that I finished!! Yippee!!!
Now I get to rest. Although, I feel a little lost without a training plan.
edited to add: cranky right hip wasn't an issue at all during the marathon. Left leg was a cranky one though. Compensating. Need to work on core strength and balance.


  1. Congrats! Glad you had a great first marathon :)

    I trained with the Striders and knew they were going to be there ... those gummy bears got me over the bridge!

    I skipped the beer, though, since I wasn't sure how I'd react. Maybe I should start training with it, LOL!

  2. It IS a big deal, especially to 99% of the population that couldn't even complete the training for it! Great job girl. ;)

  3. Remember please, that for MOST people it's a huge huge huge deal to run a marathon! I had to remind my dad of that as we started the 10k. He wanted to run a marathon, but we don't think he'll be able to with health, etc. I kept having to tell him, "You're running a 10k, that's more than most people do in their life!" And it's something... a BIG something...

    Congrats! I wish I could have met you last weekend, but was so worried and protective of my dad, I couldn't think of much else!

  4. Totally agree with everybody else. Not matter how many marathons you do, it is ALWAYS a big deal. Congratulations!!! Like you, I'm always too focused on the race to have any awareness of my surroundings. At the first ING Georgia Half/Full marathon, Dee Dee asked me if saw th choir at mile 2, and I was like, there was a choir? LOL...

    Enjoy your rest!! There will be plenty of time to think about next year and what to do in the off season!

    You are a marathoner! The few. The proud!! :-)

  5. Congratulations!! It's a big deal to me. I don't know if I'll ever run a marathon due to my recurring knee issues...

  6. Michelle, you did GREAT! You should be proud of yourself. I am also happy I got to meet you at the Expo even if it was only briefly. Again, congrats!

  7. Happy marathon finish and may you have many more!

    MCM 2009 was my wife's first marathon. And even though she struggled she went back to the well this year in the Lewis and Clark Marathon here is Missouri. And even though she struggled, she's planning to run in the US Air Force Marathon in Dayton in 2011...

  8. Congratulations!!!!! IT IS A BIG DEAL! YOU RAN A MARATHON!