Posts Tagged ‘race report’

Blog Chocolate. Hot Blogcolate. Blog Chocoblog. I give up.‏

This blog post was written by my sister and Hot Chocolate 15k survivor, Katie. She promised other Katie that she wouldn’t complain too much, and I don’t think she did. Please enjoy this post while I work on my Key West race report, which won’t be anywhere near as entertaining as last year’s.

I firmly believe in not traveling for races; if I can’t bike, bus, or metro to your starting line, I’m happy to let someone with a car and a taste for race-parking blood take that spot. I live in one of the most active cities in the country, so I don’t have to go far to run almost any distance on any terrain. Plus I really, really like to sleep. I’m also a quite literal fairweather runner; if it’s too cold, too hot, too rainy, or too dark outside, I’ll pass, thanks. But when you put the words “hot chocolate” onto your December event’s name, you bet your ass I’m willing to be mildly inconvenienced. Hot chocolate is delicious. Throw in a ladies-cut jacket and my better judgment cedes all responsibility to my covetous id. Shit, for running, hot chocolate, and a jacket, I’ll wake up at 4:45 in the morning after working until 10:00 the night before, ride my bike across the city because the metro isn’t running yet, and mooch a ride off a friend’s friend to get to you. And that’s precisely what I did!

DC’s inaugural Hot Chocolate 5k/15k was held at the National Harbor, an oasis of hotels and conference sites in a suburban Maryland wasteland.* Despite being well off the metro, $45-65 to enter, and held in friggin’ December, some 18,000 runners schlepped to the starting lines from parking lots at Crystal City to Rosecroft Raceway. (I told you hot chocolate was delicious.) My friends and I parked at Rosecroft, grateful for the modest traffic we sat in when compared to the lines of unmoving drivers exiting at the Harbor. Conveniently, a half dozen shuttles arrived as we did, so despite being behind schedule, we made it to the start quickly. On the shuttle, I noticed someone checking the weather on their iPhone. It was 29 degrees outside, and I wished I’d worn more layers.

Walking from the shuttle stop, I overhead a volunteer announce that the start was delayed 20 minutes for each race and relayed the information to my friends. It seemed somewhat reasonable, given the traffic we’d observed.

Then we waited.

And waited.

The 5k started about 30 minutes late and the announcements stopped. Nobody told us that they’d mistakenly sent the runners in the wrong direction, and the 15k would run right into them if it was released. We just stood in the cold for another half hour as people got cranky. They chanted pro-start slogans. I suggested storming the hot chocolate tents at the finish festival. (Instead I ate some of the shot blocks I had packed, an uncharacteristic act of foresight on my part.) My friends devised a “Cinco de Mile” race that involves tequila shots, and you are rightly jealous. Finally, at 9am, they released the 15k, funneling the unseeded, slower runners into the seeded start. This was probably extremely frustrating for some faster competitors, but it pushed me to a comfortable 9:30 first mile.

As you’ve likely read on other race reports, the course was too narrow, and the first five miles abutted freeway traffic on one side. There were also cones and barrels all over the course. It was pretty unsafe, and I wasn’t able to crack another sub-10-minute mile until runners finally gave up and spilled across the entire roadway. We came off the freeway, crested a hill, and just beyond the five-mile marker enjoyed a long downhill past the announcer and cheering spectators. My spirits lifted as I picked off dozens of runners apparently unfamiliar with the strategy of friggin’ flying when the course is easy. Right around here, the course became scenic as well; instead of a four-lane highway, we ran on slightly rolling hills past hotels and green space. Had I been running alone, not with 12,000 others, it would have been a really pleasant and moderately challenging route. We snuck into the harbor’s downtown and, in the span of a mile, passed about four MarathonFoto photographers. We also seem to have passed the Awakening, if the photos are to be believed, but I don’t recall seeing it. The course veered onto a bike path and gravel stretch beside the harbor that, again, would have been pleasant were I a visiting businessman out for a jog and not one of 12,000 racers.

Somehow, I heaved my heft across the finish line in 1:28.18, pretty much exactly as fast as I’d hoped to finish. This seems miraculous given the crowds, but I am not going to question my awesomeness. My legs burned, and the spectators were crowding the finish line, but I managed to snag a bottle of water and stagger up to the finish festival. I drank a hot chocolate before they ran out of marshmallows. I wished they had spared us a few more pretzel rods or maybe a whole banana for our fondue dishes. I wondered if it was me that smelled so bad or the combined stinks of everyone present.

If my assessment of this race seems fairly neutral, it’s because I had a perfectly good race time, enjoyed but did not gorge myself on chocolate, and at least fit into my jacket even if the sleeves are a little short. I’m used to that. It comes with being long-limbed. So, no, I’m not calling for anyone’s heads or trying to run RAM racing out of DC for good. If you want to enjoy those comments, check out their facebook page. But next time my better judgment is questioning 1) driving to a race 2) in the winter and 3) when I’m working all weekend, I will probably take her advice: I’ll sleep in and make my own Swiss Miss when I wake up around 10:00 in my nice, warm bed.

Here's a pic of me and Katie at an infinitely better organized run--the one where we ran around town with a xeroxed piece of paper collecting shamrocks.

*It’s probably lovely; I don’t know. I only saw the freeway. (Ed. note–It is indeed a wasteland. I’ve been.)
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My 200th Post Is About Me

So, remember when I said that I wanted to write my 200th post about how awesome my T2 runners were? Well, I’ve got a lot going on right now, including my A race last weekend, and I figured I can’t just keep my blog in limbo forever while I wait to find the time to write those folks the post they deserve. Are they inspiring? Hell yes. Let’s just leave it at that for now.

And talk about me.

Saturday I headed down South to Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, where hoop skirts still abound (just kidding. I WISH hoop skirts still abounded). Amy and I skipped work on Friday (which is why I’m still here at 7:30 p.m.) and made the drive through typical I-95S hell with prodigal CAR Kay. We got there just in time to hit the expo, where I needed to buy a new pair of sneakers for the race. Yes, you heard me right. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again. New shoes are my JAM, and I will wear them in a race up to and including 13.1 miles until I die! If Brooks doesn’t want me to do it, then they should start making sneakers that last longer than 200 miles.

Anyway, my local running store had already upgraded to the 2012 models, which are fug. And I’m not crazy enough to run a race in new updated shoes. So even though Amy offered to pick some up for me at her LRS, I said no thanks, I’ll just get some fo’ cheap at the expo. (This is foreshadowing, people.)

On the way to expo, we started talking about how we were feeling. Amy was nervous, but I said I felt really zen. I didn’t feel anything–I was just going to go out and run. Well, when we get to the expo to find ONLY Sauconys and discounted Adrenalines in every size except women’s 10, I could feel that zen slipping away into sheer terror. Yes, I had brought old sneakers, but I didn’t even bring my most recent pair. I just grabbed some old ones, because I figured there was no way in hell they wouldn’t have my sneakers at the expo.

Luckily, Amy, as a member of the 21st century, was able to look up the nearest running specialty store on her smartphone, while I just held my phone in my hand and pretended to study its ultra-cool keyboard, which is useless for doing anything besides communicating directly with a human being. We made a quick run to the store, which closed in–oh look at that–1o minutes. But they had the 2011 version of my shoes, and I grabbed them and headed back out to the CAR team dinner.

That was really the scariest part of the weekend for me, so forgive me for spending so much time on it. I did run a race the next day though, and my feelings about it can best be summed up as ambivalent though mostly positive. And I figured out why I was feeling so zen before the race–I had nothing to lose. Unlike my last big 13.1, I wasn’t planning to lay it out on the line. I’ve been uber-stressed lately, and while I very much viewed this as a return to my racing form, as the race I needed to prove to me that I made the right decision about my hip and my training over the last year, I still spent most of my time training for this race by standing still while other people ran around me. And the times I did run, well, I averaged about 15-minutes per mile with my runners. It was far from ideal, but it’s the training that I was able to do and still live the life that I wanted to live. A year ago I gave myself over to the marathon, and it burned me badly. If I’m going to come back, it’s going to be on my terms.

And so I went into the race with a max long run of 10 miles. I figured I could hold an 8-minute pace thanks to targeted strength training and interval work. And that’s exactly what I did. I’ll cut to the good part–I finished in 1:44:29, a time that is only 10 seconds slower than my PR and a world away from that race. Going into the Philly RnR last year, I was a basket case. I felt like I had sacrificed my life, and I didn’t feel like I was any faster for it. I felt all kinds of pressure to perform, and while I gutted it out at the half distance, I crumpled a month later in the full. My goal was to make that pace feel easy, because I knew I was a baby when it came to the marathon distance. If I don’t have the raw speed, well, I’m not going to find it out on that course.

So Saturday I started out at 7:54 and decided to pull it back a bit. My next miles were 7:57 and 8:01, just where I wanted to be. I continued on in that fashion, with outliers at 5 and 8, like everyone else it appears, and talked myself into running 13.1 miles that day. I began to slip at mile 10, mostly because I thought I was still in mile 9. I spent a lot of the time willing away small aches and convincing myself that if I stayed comfortable, I could finish the race, that my time didn’t matter. It wasn’t until I got to mile 11 that I really believed it, and then I began to speed back up. I hit mile 12 and then began gunning for the fast last mile that Kay had promised. I saw Coach George right before I turned to the downhill finish, and he yelled at me to pick it up. So I did. In that last 3/4 of a mile, I used up everything that I had been holding onto and busted out a 7:08 final mile to finish my second-fastest half marathon ever with a huge smile on my face.

I would describe my feelings after the race as “pleasantly surprised.” Am I sorry I didn’t try harder? A little. But mostly I’m just happy to be in a place that allows me to run well without pain and too much suffering. Plus I have another half marathon in a few weeks, and I plan to really prove myself there anyway.

I Am Steelman

Well folks, you were right. Thanks in no small part to your encouragement and the awesome support of most of my favorite training partners,  I did it! And I managed to exceed every goal I set for myself while having fun in the process. In short, Sunday was an amazing day.

I awoke Sunday morning to echos of two years ago. At 4:30, the rain was coming down hard as I worked to attach the bikes to the car rack without getting too cold or wet in the pitch-black process. But as we were driving to the race, a miracle happened: It stopped raining. As I was lifting the bikes back off the car, I made a comment to Katie (my sister) about how at least it had stopped raining, unlike two years ago.

“Oh, that was the worst race ever,” the woman in the car next to us chimed in. Lady, you don’t know the half of it.

We met up with Amy and the Tall Girl and made our way down to the transition area, where we set up and waited for the confirmation of wetsuit legality. I had my wetsuit dance all ready to go, and I was thrilled to break it and the suit out once they made the announcement. Seriously, I was probably the first person to don my suit. There’s nothing like a good wetsuit strut to get you in the mood to race.

Anyway, I digress.

The race started with a swim warm up, which I decided to take advantage of for the first time ever. After the DC Tri, where I jumped in and immediately started swimming then spent the first 200 meters hyperventilating, I realized that letting my body acclimate to the water was a good idea. Usually I just stand there and let myself get more and more worked up and scared before starting the race, a practice that has probably caused some adverse physiological reactions that only added to the miserableness of swimming. So I got in, I put my face in, I swam around, and all was good.

I climbed back out, talked to Lauren and Amy for a while, then Katie and I made our way down to our wave. We were in the second wave, along with every other man and woman under 30 and the Athenas and Clydesdales. Holy superwave, Batman! We moved into the water and out to the first buoy, and then we were off. I settled right in, breathing on both sides almost right away. It was a bit crowded, but I passed the few people who were slower than me and settled right in next to the buoys. I think I’ve mentioned before that the benefit of swimming the way I do is that it’s empty enough that I can take a pretty direct line to the buoys, and I did that on Sunday. At one point I was so close to a turn buoy that I punched it twice. I’m not sure that’s textbook, but it made me laugh.

As I swam along, it felt like I was taking forever. I told myself I’d finish in about 40 minutes and that was ok. I fought the urge to look at my watch, and instead I thought mostly of Dash and how she’d be so proud of me for finishing. Which is true, but kind of a weird thing to think of. I also thought about my dad, and how glad he would be to see me come out of the water instead of dropped off a boat. But this is the first time that I didn’t swear off triathlon completely while swimming, and I attribute that to the fact that I felt confident in my (slow) swimming ability for the first time ever, after two long years of work.

I finally did come out of the water, and was pleasantly surprised to look down at my watch and see 34:11! And did I mention that I’ve figured out that my swim headaches come from shoulder and neck tension? So I didn’t even have to deal with crushing dizzy spells or anything. I came out of the water and started running!

Back in transition I struggled with my wetsuit a bit, but I pulled it off and headed out just as Katie came in to grab her bike. My goal for the bike was to lay it all out there. In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t do many brick workouts. My theory is that if I’m strong enough, in each individual discipline, I’ll be just fine. And it seems to be working for my current fitness/ability level. Maybe someday I’ll get serious and train properly. But anyway, my goal was to just leave it out on the bike course in the spirit of that tired old triathlon mantra, “It IS all about the bike.”

And lay it out there I did. The DC Tri has a much bigger field, so I’m used to coming out of the swim and picking off people like crazy. I was a little thrown to not see anyone from my age group on the bike. Then I thought I might be kind of close to the front anyway, so I just went after it. On a fairly hilly course, I managed to average 18.9 mph for 26.9 miles. I was stoked. I came back into transition after tracking down one of my competitors, waved to my dad, and racked my bike. My goal was to keep T2 down to a minute: I ran out and tapped my watch at 1:05. Success!

I started running and immediately began passing folks. My goal was 50 minutes, which was kind of a reach. I haven’t run 6 miles all in a row in two months. Hee. So I got out there and desperately wanted to walk, but I started bargaining with myself. Self, I said, you have a shot at a podium spot if you run fast enough, but ONLY if you run under 50 minutes. And let’s be honest, you probably feel so miserable because you’re running so fast!

I hit the first mile in 7:50 and suddenly believed the angel on my shoulder. On the way out, I had passed Beth and the Tall Girl, and I was looking forward to seeing Amy and my sister on our two-loop course. The run kept getting harder, but I just kept passing people left and right. I caught up with and passed two girls in my AG, at which point I realized I probably wouldn’t podium (curse you, swimming!) but I planned to get as close as humanly possible.

It had warmed up, and I started dumping water on my head. I also realized that I should have eaten some more food on the run, because I felt like I was bonking. I started sipping Gatorade to get me through it. At long last, I saw mile 6 and then the turn to the gravel path to the finish. Two men ahead of me were racing each other pretty hard, and I just watched them go and wondered how in the world they had so much left. I was absolutely spent.

I crossed the finish line with a 49:40(!!!) for the run, 2:53:21 total and finally got the coveted Steelman finisher towel that had been denied to me two years ago. I hobbled over to Katie, Beth, and the Tall Girl to wait for Amy and my Katie to finish. There I slowly regained my strength and posed for the greatest picture of me ever taken.

In the car on the way back to DC, I told Wes that this was one of my most proud races ever. While my mangled syntax illustrates just how tired I was, the sentiment is valid. I was out and out terrified of swimming when I started. I worried that I would never be able to do an Olympic distance triathlon. I questioned why I continued to swim when it only resulted in frustration and anxiety. A lot of people gave me permission to quit–permission that was sought and much appreciated–but I insisted that swimming was character building. And after Sunday I’m convinced I was right. I spent a lot of my life doing only what came easily to me, but the reward is so much sweeter when you put in some effort, when you finally do what you thought you never could.

Thanks, guys.

Today, We Are All Peasants

Someone give Lindsay a prize. She correctly guess that I did a triathlon this weekend! (Judges’ note: We would not have accepted turned 29, as that did not happen until today. Editor’s note: I am not above sneakily telling you all that today is my birthday. And that apparently I met Amy on my birthday last year.)

I did the PeasantMan triathlon, which bills itself as a training event to benefit the High Cloud Foundation, but it’s really just a super cheap triathlon that is run and provided for extremely well by volunteers and donations. This was a small tri, but it was a full sprint distance and everything went perfectly smoothly, except for that part when I went off the bike course.

But otherwise it was a beautiful day. The sky was a bit overcast, but it was that magical temperature that allows you to bike comfortably all wet in a sleeveless tri suit and still be cool on the run. It was also the first time I have ever enjoyed a triathlon. I think the secret was the fact that I was running really fast at the end. I passed several dudes and finished with with a 24:06 for the (estimated) 5k run, and I felt like I had a lot more left. (I also realized as I was running that I was doing yet another 5k.)

On top of that I only took 15 minutes to swim 750 meters, which is an insanely fast time for me and did a lot to quell the anxiety and distress I was feeling about swimming before now. I still get headaches when I swim, but now maybe I’ll work on fixing them instead of swearing off tris forever.

At the end of the race I told Wes that I’d had fun. “Oh God,” he replied. “Now how many triathlons are you going to do? Because you’ve always hated them before now, but you kept on doing them.”

Wes took some sweet video, but I have to figure out how to upload it to here. Stay tuned!

Jingle All the Way

Well my first race since my marathon is under my belt, and I’m feeling pretty good. I think I learned this year that I really need to keep racing. That’s why I train. With triathlons I really prefer the training to the event (only because of the swim though), but with running, it’s all about race day for me. Which is why I have a tendency to jump back into racing as soon as I can after injury. And that little habit–and the recurring minor injuries that went with it–made me swear off racing for much of 2010. Did it work? Yes. But would I do it again? Not to the extent that I did it this year. Racing keeps me sharp, and I think I was missing a lot of that this training season.

So I dragged myself out of bed Sunday morning after about 5 hours of heavily interrupted sleep to head out in the rain to the Jingle All the Way 10k. Two years ago I set a PR of 46:51. Who knows when I’ll see a time like that again? I knew it wouldn’t be Sunday. None of my G2B crew was running the race, so when I met up with Katie at the start, I decided that I’d rather pace her to a PR than run by myself (and just end up frustrated when I still only came in in like 52 minutes).

So that’s what I did. The 45 degree weather meant I ditched my Santa hat pretty early in the run, but the steady drizzle made sure I almost froze to death after the race. In other words, a beautiful day for a run.

Check out Katie’s race report for the deets. I can assure you that I was hurting a little more than I wanted to during that last mile. But I’m so happy to be out racing again. I was almost happy enough to go to the CAR hill workout this morning…but instead I enjoyed one very last week off, especially given the weather forecast. My right quad and calf are feeling twitchy from Sunday I’m just not ready for it to be this cold yet!

Bike Key West

So, as most of you already know, I spent the last weekend in Key West to participate in the first-ever Key West Triathlon. Amy, Katie, and I entered the Olympic relay as Team Run This Amazing Day, and we totally dominated…the other two teams in the division. (Beth dominated considerably more people to come in second in her age group in her first-ever tri!)

If you’ve read Amy, Katie, or Beth’s blog already, you know most of the story. After some mighty-fine finagling, Beth scored a gorgeous bike for me to race on.

She looks like Carmela Sherbert!

After Katie’s rock-star-like swim, in which she tamed the murky waters and seaweed of the Gulf of Mexico, I took off on my bike. I started about two minutes after our competition. They were apparently all friends, because they seemed determined to stick together. At first I was nervous, because they both had really nice bikes with aerobars. I was afraid I’d underestimated them, and that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my projected 1:40 time for 25 miles. But as the women walked their bikes down to the mount line, I noticed that they didn’t seem that comfortable walking them. And that one of them had a water bottle tucked into her jersey.

Then I saw Katie coming, and I readied myself to begin the chase. Katie came up and handed off the timing chip–she was nice enough to put it on my ankle, because I was stupidly holding the bike and had taken my own, fresh hands out of commission. Thanks, Katie! Anyway, I ran down from the parking-garage transition area and mounted up and took off.

Nice belly.

I frantically tried to start my Garmin as I took off and realized I was still in run mode. Oh well. My first mile was about 3:31, but then I dipped down below 3 for the next 2 or 3. I had no idea I was riding a false-flat downhill. So young, so naive.

Anyway, 25 miles ranks up there as one of the longest rides I’ve ever done. I think I’ve only ridden longer than that 2 or 3 other times. In other words, it was hard. The unfamiliar saddle started to chafe my poor little bottom, and the wind was just non-stop and in my face the entire time. At one point I made a U-turn, relieved to be finally out of the headwind only to find that the headwind was worse going the opposite way. That’s only possible in the Keys, people. And on the Mount Vernon trail.

Anyway, I passed the competition at the first turnaround point. After that the course got a little confusing. There was a secret loop that we Olympic-distancers had to complete. It was pretty out of the way and quiet, and no one would ever know if you, say, didn’t actually do it. But I did it and headed back up to the turn-around point again, excited to see how much time I had put on the other relay riders. But the next time I saw them, there was only one. I figured she had just dropped the less-experienced cyclist. But then, a mile or so later, I saw the woman with the water bottle stopped on the side of the road, facing my way. There’s absolutely no way I lapped her. I can only assume that she was waiting for her friend, after presumably, leaving off a good 6 miles from her ride. Because about 10 minutes after I got to the transition, they came in together.

So, yes, I’m accusing the one of the three teams that participated in a race that was giving away prizes for first, second, and third place of cheating. We decided not to say anything, because I couldn’t figure out how to say, “I know we won by 15 minutes, but that lady who has never done a race before (we checked) cheated” without sounding like a sore winner. It was a bit infuriating to hear the six women argue that they had tied for second place, but again, there’s nothing we could say. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt, say that the woman who cheated had been talked into doing something she wasn’t prepared for by her more athletic friends and that once they saw I was so far ahead of them, they knew it really didn’t matter. Surely they wouldn’t have taken first and second in that manner, right? But at the same time, 25 miles was hard on me! I wasn’t properly trained, and I even tweaked my good hamstring! If you’re going to sign up for a race, then f-ing do the race, Team Drink and Tri!

Anyway, rant over. We finished.

We won.

Here's an exclusive photo, just for Chasing Consciousness 😉

And then we drank some margaritas that nearly killed me. Ok, I drank one margarita. Mine tried to save me from myself by spontaneously breaking, but the guys at the restaurant brought me another, so I finished a lot of that one, and then regaled everyone with tales about exactly how sore my crotch was (very).

With that mental picture, I’ll sign off now. Oh, wait, for the record, it only took me 1:20:57 to do 25 miles. Luckily Katie told Amy to expect me sooner than my projected 1:40.

A Disappointing Run: MCM

Yesterday I ran my slowest marathon ever. It was definitely disappointing, but I’ve had so many misgivings and signs about this one that I’m not surprised or too too disappointed. While I realize that my defeatist attitude may have been self-fulfilling, I was definitely not feeling sharp or race ready, starting about 3 weeks out. I was having some injury problems, but I was also having some time problems, which compromised my ability to cross train. The great thing about running is that it travels well and you can squeeze it in anywhere. But when you can’t run… I’d also gotten too tired to do much cross training because I was running so much. I think next time I’m going to schedule a rest week every third week at a minimum. It makes a big difference for me, and I need to be better about taking them so I don’t burn out.

Anyway, the trouble started right away. Going through the first mile in 9 minutes, I felt winded. Which isn’t how you’re supposed to feel. I knew then it was going to be a long day. I thought about dropping off my group right there. I might have had a better race if I’d done that, who knows, maybe even a faster one, but I knew what times I had to run to qualify for Boston, and I wasn’t going to give up that early.

I had decided to wear my compression socks because I wanted something to shield my achilles. That also turned out to be a big mistake. I had never run more than 4 miles in them (and I did that on Thursday). Turns out they really rub the bottom of my right foot the wrong way. My foot was all hot and sore and painful, starting at about mile 6, and then the aches just went up that right leg, into my wonky piriformis and hamstring. I dropped off my group at about mile 15, but I told myself to just keep running, because last time I gave up mentally well before my body did.

Mile 10, still feeling good

I was doing a fantastic job of just running mile to mile. Every time I hit a mile, I’d just say to myself, ok, do another one. But then disaster struck. Just as I was starting to feel like shit…I missed three mile markers. Talk about a devastating psychological blow. Somehow I completely missed miles 16, 17, and 18. And, during that time, despite the fact that I had at least a dozen awesome friends out there cheering for me, I never saw one of them. It might be a good thing, because for a while there all I wanted to do was hug Wes and start crying, but it would have been nice to see someone just the same.

As it was, I just kept telling myself that I’d see Dash at mile 20 and that I at least had to run to her. So I did.

As you can see, I've settled into a plodding pace.

And now, I’d like to say a few words about the Marine Corps course. In short, I f-ing hate it. The only reason I run this stupid race is because I can sleep in my bed and ride the metro in. (Author’s note: As I was writing this sentence, Monday night at 5:30 p.m., I realized that my car was still at the metro! But somehow, no parking ticket! It’s a marathon miracle!) Anyway, I prefer local marathons–when I ran Philadelphia in 2007 I was terrified that I’d forget something, and then they didn’t give me enough food at dinner, and it was just a lot of unnecessary stress.

But people, I will never do MCM again. And this is not never like I’ll never do a marathon or I’ll never do a triathlon. This is never ever ever. The course is just CRUEL. They take the hardest 6 miles of any marathon and they make you run across a barren highway. When you are on the 14th St. bridge, you cannot see the end of it. And then you do get down to the end of it and they send you through an office park and hey, there are some people! But you don’t fool me, Crystal City with your misleading 23 mile marker and your 2 blocks of spectators. But then it’s right back into the desolation of the Pentagon parking lot and some more highway that’s deserted because everyone’s a mile down the road waiting to see you finish.

I did get to see Wes, Katie, and some other friends in Crystal City, but I also started having chest pains. I told myself that I could start walking at mile 23, and I did, and then I got some good breaths in, so the chest pains went away, but that was definitely a scary few minutes. Luckily I had no idea where the med tents were, so I couldn’t stop.

I walked and jogged back through the Pentagon parking lot, cursing the stupid marathon and swearing never to do it again. And then I came up on my teammate Amy. “Oh no, not you too!” I said as I reached her. Her persistent stomach problems had flared up on her. She tried to run with me, but she was still feeling sick, and I wanted to stay, but I was tired of suffering, plus she had a friend who jumped in with her anyway. (You should have seen the look on his face when I said I was having chest pains.)

Anyway, seeing Amy gave me a bit of a lift. It was like someone coming along and saying, “You’re right, this is really hard.” And with that affirmation, I scooted along to the finish. I walked some more and Amy caught me again. We walked through a water stop at mile 25, but then I shuffled on ahead. Coming in toward the finish I finally saw my family, and then I  heard Dash call out to me as I came up the hill. I was practically doubled over, as you can see below.

I love this picture because it shows EXACTLY how I was feeling.

I came in a 3:52:28, which is my slowest marathon ever. Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that this time is 16 seconds slower than my first marathon. But I negative split that one! Which meant I felt a lot better at the end.

What can I say? I’m disappointed, of course, but I feel like I’ve gotten very lucky the last three times I’ve run one to not have something go as wrong as my socks went yesterday. And my socks could have been worse, so I’m still lucky there. I learned a lot this training cycle, and I’m ready to make some tweaks and get ready for the next one. And, for what it’s worth, my PR came after two steady years of marathon training–three marathons in two years. This is my first in two years. Looks like I have some catching up to do.

Congratulations to everyone who ran yesterday, especially my CAR crew! We did it!

*And thanks to Dash for the awesome spectating and pictures!