Monday, October 29, 2012

Marine Corps Marathon 2012 Race Report

Somehow, my first marathon of the fall has come and gone and I feel like it happened so quickly!! I had an absolute blast at this year's MCM and it was a weekend I'll remember for a long time. And yes, my race report is a novel, per usual.

A few years back, prior to my first MCM in 2010, I started posting on the Runner's World (RW) MCM forum. I quickly became friendly with everyone on the board and daily, we post about our training, our lives, questions about running, and everything in between. It's become a daily habit for me to go on, write about what's going on with me, then interact and learn more about my other running friends. I went to the forum encounter (FE) two years ago, and last year, I couldn't miss going even though I wasn't participating in the race. I even had two friends from the board pace me in my 100!

Blurry cell phone picture, but here's some of the RW crew!
We're a close bunch, so I was really excited that another FE was happening this year. Like last year, it was hosted by Brian and a good group came out to snack, drink (water or alcohol, depending on how courageous you were), meet in person for the first (or second, third, etc.) time, and get excited about the race. I loved going so I could see them, especially since we had people coming from Colorado, England, and Germany! Love these guys!!

Race morning, I got into my Minnie Mouse costume (costumed marathons streak grew to 5!), I took the Metro with my mom, which took a long time, but got us right up to the Pentagon where the start would take place pretty easily. I met up with the Runner's World folks for a pre-race photo, used the bathroom, then got into my coral for the race. I felt really excited and only a tiny bit nervous, but in a way, there's something sort of magical about that moment; you don't know how the next handful of hours are going go, which is equally nerve-wracking and fun.
Another FE picture (stolen from Jen)
The gun went off and since my coral was not too far back, I only had to wait 5 minutes to cross the start line. The first 8 or so miles have the most of the hills in the course, so I told myself to try to keep up for an 3:45 finish pace, but not to get too upset if that didn't happen. I hadn't seen the 3:45 pace group at the start, but figured I was in the right place for it. The start of the race is broken up into to sides of a highway that meet up in Rosslyn, VA after about .5 miles and before the two groups merged, I noticed the 4:00 pace group was close to me on the other side. Doh, that's not good! I told myself not to panic, it was early, and I just needed to be steady in my pacing.
Some of the RW crew at the start of the race.

About 2 miles in, one of the Runner's World people who I had yet to meet in person, Jonah, recognized me (Minnie Mouse costume helped!). I was so glad he did and we stuck together throughout most of the race. We were able to stick together with our pacing and getting to know him better in person was a fun way to keep myself entertained throughout the race.

The hills weren't as bad as I remembered (I kept telling myself they were doable and I think the mind games I played helped) and soon enough, we were breezing through miles 6, 7, 8 and 9. Running through Georgetown was a total blast! We got to Haine's Point, which is a peninsula. Going out on it, where we hit the halfway point of the race, was pretty and easy. Once we turned around, though, the strong beginning winds of Hurricane Sandy were right in our faces and it was hard to power through.
Had to make sure my ears were on juuuuuust right. 

After battling the winds for a bit, we headed towards the monuments and the amount of spectators increased dramatically. I really enjoyed how enthusiastic the spectators were, especially about my costume. I knew my mom would be around mile 18 and a RW friend would be at mile 19, so I kept pushing and counting down until I saw them. I spotted my mom and around then is when Jonah started to slow and we parted ways. I was sad to lose him as a running partner, but I knew we had different goals in mind for the race and it sadly would happen at some point.

After seeing my friend at mile 19, I made my way to the bridge. When people talk about the MCM, they talk about "beating the bridge." I remember last time I ran it, my severe dehydration set in there and I struggled quite a bit. This time, I kept a positive attitude and told myself that no stinkin' bridge was going to stop me from attempting to PR. The bridge wasn't too bad, but it was long and boring. I had waited to use my iPod until I really needed to as I learned race morning that it had very little battery left. About halfway to the bridge, I put my music on and it helped a lot.
Pre-race photo showing off the costume
Soon enough, we were back in VA for the last 6 or so miles, which unlike the rest of the race, seemed to drag on. I knew that we were so close to the finish, but had to do a few out and back sections to tack on enough miles to reach the 26.2. Around mile 23, my watch died (I knew this would happen as I learned it was low on battery right before starting the race), so I just had to push myself and hope my pace was good enough for a PR.

With about a mile left, my iPod died, but we were so close, the amount of spectators were growing and I was getting really excited to be done. The final hill to the finish is totally demoralizing and draining, but I pushed up as hard as I could (without throwing up, which I felt I was on the brink of) and soon enough, I finished! I waited in line to get my medal from a Marine, which was truly humbling as they salute you and shake your hand.

I met up with my mom and asked for my cellphone immediately. I knew I signed up for alerts to post to my Facebook, so I quickly searched and saw my finish time being 3:48:34. I knew I PRed Philly last year with a 3:48, but I couldn't remember the seconds! I barely focused on moving as I had to search on the Philly Marathon site to see if it was a PR and sure enough, I PRed by 16 seconds!! I may or may not have started dancing and saying some choice words in my happiness.
Happy to be done!
I had to rush back, shower, and head to Philly before the storm, so the race doesn't quite feel like it's hit me. I wished I could have run a 3:45 like I aimed for originally, but with a PR, a great attitude throughout the whole race, and a fun costume, I can't really ask for anything better. I do think this will bode well for Philly as it's a flatter course, so here's to hoping!!

And of random note, here are some of the funny signs I saw this year (I saw more, but only can remember these):

  • Race is over. No more Saturday runs = Friday night sex
  • Paul Ryan is already finished (this was at Mile 2, adding to the hilarity)
  • May the Course be with you
  • Rock this course like a hurricane
  • If this race was easy, it'd be called your mom 
  • Worst Parade Ever (an oldie, but a goody) 
  • No Pain, No Beer
  • Run Faster, Zombies Hurricanes are coming


  1. Congrats on the PR! I've got to say, your post-race picture does not look like you just ran 26.2 miles, which takes a lot of skill :) Super cute costume!

    1. Thanks!! You should have seen me after my first or even my other MCM; they were not pretty sights! Thanks, though! Hope you are enjoying the beginnings of tapering!

  2. Ok now I'm like why haven't I been on the RW forum?! Lets hear it for a PR!!!

    1. Thanks!! Yes, you should be on there! The MCM crew is particularly supportive (most supportive I've encountered on there), but other groups are great, too.

  3. Congrats - sounds like a great race overall and loved your costume!

    1. Thanks! I got lucky with how well everything went and the costume made it a lot more fun.

  4. Nice job Rebecca and another great costume! I'm really sorry to have missed the fun but reading this I feel (almost) like I was there. And how 'bout that PR to boot!!!

    1. Thanks, David! You were missed a ton at the FE!

  5. Awesome, Rebecca. Great job and I love the pics. (This is Docket_Rocket, FYI).

    1. Thanks, Damaris! Sorry we didn't get to meet!

  6. Where did you get the costume? I would something similar for my disney race coming up!!

    1. I actually already owned that dress! People always said I looked like Minnie Mouse in it, so that gave me the thought to turn into a costume. I bought the ears on Etsy. I hope you can find a great costume because I have a feeling running in one at Disney would be blast!