Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Race report: Marine Corps Marathon

It felt kinda odd running my way to the start area from the Pentagon entrance before the race. I knew the routine, the Marine checkpoint, the UPS bag drop, where the best place to line up for porta potties, and how fast I’d have to quickly make my way up to the corrals so I didn’t start a race of 22,000 in the far back. So much so that even though I left R.’s place at 6 a.m., there was barely enough time to settle into the start area to prep for the race start.



Fourth time, huh? Weird, I’ve done this race so much so that I feel like it’s my home marathon course. Of course, I have no where near PBed here, but that’s another story.

My goal was to start off at 3:50 marathon pace, and see how it’d go. I had done exactly the same thing last year (having run MCM a week after a solid marathon in Toronto) and felt great in the last half. Same goal, with NYC Marathon a week away. This time, I had my iPhone with me to take pictures as we went along. Goal was 8:47 miles for 3:50 and 8:24 miles for a 3:40. That’s around 5:11 to 5:27 kilometres.

A view of the start with the helicopters flying past the crowd.




The first part of MCM is probably the hardest, and although you can run up hills early in a marathon with power, its those initial miles in Rosslyn and Georgetown that will get you in the flat hot miles down the road. I took them relatively easy and just got used to running among so many runners. Just tried to go out comfortable pace.



1 8:29
2 8:47
3 8:25

I have a fuzzy memory, but I know I caught up to the 3:50 pace group on an uphill. Unfortunately, it could have been around mile 3. It was a packed group, so I went a little ahead of them before we hit Georgetown. It was the last I saw of that group until 20 miles later on an out and back.

By the way, it was Halloween, and quite a few characters in the crowd. Like this guy. Where’s Waldo! I spotted him then grabbed my phone to take this shot



R. later took this image near Lincoln.



5K split in 26:35 (Just a little off 3:40 pace)

Going into Georgetown, you got this slow incline and I just concentrated and ran up, focusing on the runners around me and the fact that we could all see our breaths. We finished the five miles of hills and I felt great. Perfect day, cool, slight wind at that point.

Running uphill



4 8:23
5 8:14
6 8:07

10K 52:49


Pretty much by the 10K mark, I knew I was just going to run the race by feel, not to look down at my watch too much for feedback. I had my pace setting at around 5:11 kilometres, so I was aware that I was going at 3:40 pace. So I went with it. The downhill miles and through Georgetown was a lot of fun. You see runners who are 3-4 miles behind you on the way back and it’s humbling to see the mass of runners. You can see my splits get mighty close to 8 minute miles.

Views from Georgetown




7 8:28
8 8:06
9 8:03

15K 1:18:22 (Just 23 seconds slower than 3:40)

I was expecting to see R. at mile 10, but I forgot that they split the runners into two lanes. Add to it, I told her I would run on the right side of the road (as I usually do), but as it turns out, she was on the left. Doh, I missed her the entire race at all three checkpoints. Fail.

Hilarious part was that I was able to text her (while running at 8 minute mile pace). An example:



Oh well.



The next 5 miles brings you around Hains Point, and I was noticing everyone was already pretty silent. We took gels, and I spotted the washrooms so I dashed in for a pee break (accounting for a bit longer mile 13)

10 8:02
11 8:16
12 8:03

20K 1:44:11
13 8:25
Half marathon 1:50:09
So I was, at the half marathon, perfectly on pace for 3:40. No pace bunny in sight, I was just running as usual. I was taking in my gels, enjoying the sunny day, trying to forget I was running a marathon.

14 8:11
15 8:18
16 8:15



Again, missed R. at mile 16 in the Mall, but it’s such a fun place to run in during the MCM. I love the crowds and the monuments I run around DC quite often.

25K 2:10:19

17 8:27
18 8:21

30K 2:36:26 (Still pretty much right on 3:40)

As a MCM veteran, I like to think that the race proper starts at 19. It’s not the ‘wall’, but the stretch before you hit the bridge. And by bridge I mean wall. Mile 19 and 20 are still on the Mall, but you’re headed out to the bridge/highway/hellhole. I remember mile 19 from 2008 when I hit the wall early (it was my second hard run marathon in a month) mostly becuase I knew what was next. It went okay, I was starting to pass more runners.

19 8:15
20 8:12

The bridge miles suck, and they are partly why I pack water bottles with me for MCM. They are two hot, uphill and unrelenting death miles where everyone around you seems to be slowing. I wish I took out my camera but I was busy getting to work. I targetted a runner ahead who was running strong and gave chase. People were walking, stretching, slowing and I just picked it up a notch.

21 8:01
35K split in 3:01:45
22 8:01

So it felt great to kick the bridge’s ass again, and into Crystal City, I got a surge of energy from a water stop that everyone else around me stopped at. I picked up the pace, did the turn around and felt I could run the marathon strong. I had designs on a faster end to the marathon.

23 7:58
24 7:50

40K 3:27:23

Of course, somewhere in the last two miles, I was passing another runner on the right side toward the curb when he suddenly stopped. I had to move and bumped into the curb, causing my left calf to cramp. Crap! So the last two miles became a measured approach to finishing the race. Stretch a cramp, manage the pain, try to save the legs for a week from now. So I took a few walk breaks near the end, knowing that I could manage a 3:40 or faster finish. The final stretch seemed a bit longer, and the final hill, well, it went by a little fast, I was willing it to end, with the mini cramps about to set in.


25 8:16
26 8:25
27 4:56

First half: 1:50:09
Second half: 1:48:58
Chip Time 3:39:17
Overall Place 1991 / 21972
Gender Place 1669 / 13257
Division Place 284 / 2148

Wow, never thought I'd finish a marathon thinking "and next week, it's going to be waaaay better." I have high hopes for New York.





6 comments:

Laura said...

as usual great recap and pic! Have a blast in NYC

Marlene said...

Nice jacket. :)

I love how you can just bust out a sub-3:40 in the middle of a three-marathon streak like it's no big deal.

Congrats on another strong MCM!

Anonymous said...

From NY Times: Running Boom Fuels Two Top Races One Week Apart

Nealis estimates that about 100 runners register for both races [MCM and NYC] in the same year.

Arcane said...

Good luck on the final week! Hope you didn't hurt yourself.

EndorphinBuzz said...

You run marathons faster than I can catch up on your blog :) Congrats for another great race!

ghada said...




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