Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Marine Corps Marathon, 25 Oct 2009

Well...I ran my first marathon since breaking my leg over a year ago and I was thrilled with being able to do it.

To catch you up since my last post...many months ago...I have been running an occasional race during my training build up. After running my first half marathon in February I was a little disappointed in my fitness and endurance level as well as the discomfort to my leg during and after the races so I thought it would be good to back off a bit and slow down my rehab and training. My next race was the Dismal Swamp Stomp Half Marathon in April and finished with a time of 1:48:31...a three minute improvement from the Anheuser-Busch Colonial Half but 21 minutes slower than last year...but it was an improvement. The next race was another half...the Marine Corps Historic Half...in the rain...with a finish time of 1:42:48...almost a six minute improvement. I felt really good during and after this race and everything seemed to be coming together so I decided to do the Elizabeth River Run 10K a couple of weeks later with a disappointing time of 50:16...about four minutes slower than my 10K split during the MCHH. I just ran out of gas about three miles in...no idea why. Also my good leg calf started hurting after the 10K so I again backed off my training even though my long runs had progressed to 16 miles. I stopped running for 10 days until the pain went away and then restarted my training plan slowly again. My next race was the ASYMCA 8K Mud Run...yes the very race where I broke my leg last year. I just had to do it. I didn't expect to go fast but I expected to finish running across the finish line this time. I joined a team for this one to ensure that I would take it easy since we all had to finish together...we made it all together in 1:24:20...Oh...Our team name??? Someone thought it would be fitting to be called the "Help! I've Fallen & Can't Get Up!"...but we all had a great time! I caught a bad cold or flu a few days after the race and again didn't run for over a week and then again, slowly started up my training. Next up was the Virginia Beach Rock n Roll Half where again I found my energy and endurance lacking and finished in 1:49:21...seven minutes slower than the MCHH...it was very disappointing to be going backwards and I was seriously considering deferring the Marine Corps Marathon. The latest I could defer was 27 Sept...my longest run had been around 16 miles back in May and there was no way I could get in shape to do a full marathon when just the half was kicking my ass. I was wishing the deferment date would have been after the Army 10 Miler on the 4th of October, which I was a member of my company's team, so I could better asses my training and fitness. As I went to the website on the last day to defer, there was this message that said the deferment date had been move to the 7th of October! It was like they heard me! I ran the ATM in 1:11:02 which I was very happy with because all through the 10 miles I felt strong. The time was about six minutes slower than my fastest 10 mile time but I knew considering everything that I had gone through, it was a great time for me. Even though I only had three weeks to get ready for the MCM and with only the half and 10 miler as my long runs for the last four weeks, I decided to step up the training so that I would build up to the marathon. The week after the ATM, I ran an 18 mile long run...I had only planned on 16.5 but I met up with my lady gym friends and ran the extra with them. The week after and only a week before the MCM, I wanted to run at least a 20 miler and ended up doing 22 in under 3 hrs. Everything felt good, endurance was coming back and I was beginning to think that not only finishing but finishing with a decent time in the MCM was very possible. I got ambitious and started dreaming of a BQ finish. Foolish Me! I tapered the rest of the week doing two easy five milers in the six days left and then it was marathon time!

Drove the three and a half hours to DC on Saturday, went to the Expo and was surprised to see Paul manning his booth for "Hope for the Warriors". It was great to visit with him for awhile. Then I checked into the motel and finally enjoyed a great dinner with a bunch of MCM forum members. Went back to the motel to get everything ready and laid down to a sleepless night. I can never get a good nights sleep the day before a marathon for some reason. I got up at 5:00, ate breakfast as I looked at the weather forecast...49-61F, sunny with a bit of wind...almost perfect weather! Took my shower and put on my race stuff along with a hoodie and drove to the Pentagon City mall, parked and took the Metro to the Pentagon. We walked the mile or so to the staging area and waiting in one of the tents to keep out of the cold wind. At 7:15 I checked my hoodie and extra stuff and started the walk to the starting line. Staged myself near the 3:30 flags and tried to get into the middle of the crowd of runners to keep warm and keep the wind off. But a few minutes before start time I had to make a nature call and went down the hill to the trees where everyone else was doing it too. Got back in the corral and the starting gun fired and we were off.

As I got in the corral, I noticed the 3:30 pace group balloons about 50 feet in front whom I wanted to run with to ensure I didn't start off too fast. I couldn't get any closer to them because of so many runners all around but around the first mile, I finally caught up with them and the first mile was in 7:52. I kept just in back of the pace group for the first four miles but had to make another urgent pit stop. Off to the side of the road to water the bushes and back on course and I see the balloons are about a minute up the road. We go across the bridge to Georgetown and I'm only about 30 minutes back. We start the final climb in Georgetown and I catch up to the pace group and stay with them as they maintain a steady 8 min/mile pace. The 10K mat comes in at 48:53. It feels easy and I think I can go all day at this pace. On the downhill I leave the pace group and slowly pull ahead. We go into Hains Point and the 20K mat reads 1:36:24 and I'm still on pace and still feeling good and the half comes in at 1:42:04...faster than my MCHH time! My stomach starts rumbling the last couple of miles and now I feel something knock at the back door...wanting out. As we get to the far end of Hains Pt I see a wonder sight of half a dozen port-a-lets...but when I stop they are all full! I wait a few seconds...which seems like an eternity and finally one becomes available. I go in and do my business and a minute or so later I'm back out running. I was about three minutes ahead of the pace group and by the time I get back on the course they are only about a minute back...no worries...still on pace. We finish Hains Pt and do the Capital loop and cross the 30K mat in 2:28:46...still on pace and feeling good. Then comes the 14th Street Bridge! That thing seemed to go on for miles and my energy starts to wane. The 3:30 pace group passes me and I try to hang on to the group but they slowly get further ahead...no worries...I can still finish between 3:30 and 3:36 and still BQ. We finally go down into Crystal City and cross the 35K mat in 2:55:08...and it's less than 10K to go! The crowds are cheering and clapping and should be giving me energy but I start to feel some twinges in my calves and hams. Oh No...my dreaded muscle cramps...Please stay away for a few more miles! I try to vary my stride. We make the turn at the end of the Crystal City loop and head back towards the Pentagon and the finish line. I see the 23 mile marker a few yards ahead and the first big leg cramp hits and brings me to a walk as I try to stretch and massage the cramp out. I start running again and about a minute later both legs are cramping bringing me to a stop. I try to stretch and massage and walk some and then start running again. I cross the 40K mat in 3:30:30...the time I was suppose to cross the finish line in...how disappointing it was. I kept walking and running trying to massage out the cramps when they occurred. There's the final turn going up the small hill to the finish line and I am determined to run up the hill and cross the finish line in 3:49:09. Not the time I was hoping for but I was still happy considering that this was the first marathon in almost one and a half years. Besides the cramps the rest of the body was feeling good except for one blister on my right foot, which I felt forming around mile 11. I got my wonderful MCM medal, got my picture took, got my goodie bag and went to retrieve my hoodie and phone from the UPS trucks that seemed to be a mile away...but the walking help calm my leg cramps down. I went back to the finish area to wait the others to finish. I cheer and yell as I see Paul rounding the final turn and into the finish and a few minutes later my two gym ladies triumphantly make the turn and finish...one the lady's first marathon.

I met up with my ladies near the UPS trucks and we make our way to the Rosslyn Metro. When we get there, we see a line of people two blocks long waiting for the Metro. We see the buses even further down the road but there is also a long line of people waiting. We decide to take a cab to the next nearest Metro and there's a long line for that! I ask a sheriff directing traffic where the next nearest Metro is and he says it's about six blocks up the hill. After what seemed like about a mile and a half up the hill we finally find the Metro and make our way back to our cars and motel. I think all the walking did us good because we all felt pretty good. So...I got home and signed up for the Richmond marathon which is on 14 Nov.

Race Results:
There were 1064 finishers in the Male 50-54 age group and 21176 total finishers
Overall finish place was 3131 of 21176
Age group finish place was 141 of 1064
Time: 3:49:09 for an overall pace of 8:45 per mile

Happy Racing You All!