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

Monday, October 1, 2012

Running Songs on my Playlist

There are some runners who like to run and just enjoy the sounds of where they run. While I do appreciate that, I am a lover of music in my non-running life, so why would I run sans music?!

A running playlist is something that I put a lot of time into; honestly, I could and do spend hours on it. I save a list of songs on my phone and when a big race comes up, I update my running playlist. I also update it depending on my race (I need ~4 hours for each marathon, 12 hours for my 12 hour race [duh], etc.).

While running recently, I tried to step back and think about the songs individually, which got me to think how odd so many of the songs on my playlist are. Some are also on there for sentimental reasons. Figured I'd share with you guys!

  1. "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell - I don't know how this song became "our song" for my best friend, Caitlin, and myself, but it is. I love when it pops up because it reminds me of her (she lives in Boston, so I don't get to see her enough). It's not the most upbeat song, but it's a good memory for me.
  2. "Monster Mash" by Bobby Pickett - Nearly 2 years ago, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon on Halloween. To get me excited to run on that fun holiday, I ran in costume and added some fun holiday-specific songs to my playlist. This song has stayed on my running playlist since and it reminds me of the awesome people I've met through the race. It's also a fun throwback jam!
  3. "Magic Toenail" by Brak - Sometime as a kid, I purchased a Space Ghost CD and I wore that thing out. The music was so hilarious and this was one of the songs I loved the most. It's short, super odd, and so weird, I giggle nearly every time I listen to it. It's hard to think about how much pain you are in when you are hearing a cartoon character singing about his magic toenail. 
  4. "The Time Warp" from "Rocky Horror Picture Show" - I love the music from this cult classic and this song is so much fun. Yes, there are times that I catch myself not running and dancing instead, but it's really worth it because this song rules. 
  5. "Now That We Found Love" by Heavy D - So this isn't that odd of a running song as it's upbeat, but I honestly don't even like this song that much (90s music is not my favorite). I have it on my playlist since I love the end scene from "Hitch" where they dance to it. I always see Kevin James dancing like a fool in my head when I hear it, so it made it on the playlist.
  6. "My Racing Thoughts" by Jack's Mannequin - I met John at a Jack's show, so I had to put on a song that makes me think of him. Cheesy, I know. It's also just a great song. 
  7. "Cover Girl" by Ru Paul - I am a huge fan of Ru Paul and watch all of his shows on Logo. This song is upbeat and I just always run with a little more confidence when I hear this song. It does say "walk" over and over again, but I just think of it as instructions to run down the street like it's a catwalk. 
  8. "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones - This is just such a GREAT song. I have always loved Tom Jones, but this style of music reminds me of what my parents played when I was younger. It also reminds me of Carlton's dancing on"The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Priceless!
Okay, now I feel like you've looked into my soul ha. Most of my playlist is indie rock and dance music, but now if you see me running, you'll also know I've got some odd stuff on there. 

What do you guys listen to when working out? Are you listening to odd songs like me?