Rockn' and Rolln' through my First Marathon

I kinda knew what to expect for my first marathon. A "huge" hill at mile 6 up to Calvert, an emotional depression when marathoners peel off from the half-marathon course and continue into Anacostia for the second half of the course, and the inevitable knives in the quads. Race day came around and I felt ready - both mentally and physically!

Race morning was perfect. Low 40s, clear skies, and low winds. Given the tough and extended winter the DC area has had this year, I was running in shorts and a tank for the first time in 2014! Drank my Osmo (best hydration mix ever!) before driving over with Bart to the start!

Socks as mittens and a couple dudes thinking I'm way too excited pre-marathon!
Goal coming into this race was to qualify for Boston. I know, I aim HIGH!!! haha. BQ for my age group is somewhere around 3:35. My twin sister Phebe is moving to Boston in July 2014, and we'd been talking about both running Boston in 2015.

20,000 half- and full-marathoners lined up!

Miles 1-6: Kept it easy at an 8:00 pace that later turned out to officially be 7:56 pace for the first 10K. Phebe had told me to run with the 3:30 pace group, but I moved up a corral and never saw the pace group the entire run. 

I saw teammates Bryan Frank, Jenny Leehey and Steph Ewert on a switchback on Memorial Bridge. I think my sudden eruption of their names from the other side of the bridge caused slight heart palpitations to the people next to me. 

Hill leading up to Calvert was FUN! Lined with locals and cowbells on both sides and I had expected far worse. Hallelujah, after the ascent came the slow and steady descent!! 

Miles 7-12: Tried to keep even at an 8:00 pace and enjoyed the crowds through DC. Legs felt fine, I was keeping reserves in the bank for the last half, and the weather was starting to warm up. Hey! This marathon thing ain't too bad! I'm still enjoying myself and giving 5-year-olds high-fives!

Handed off my arm warmers to Bart when I saw him! 

Mile 12.5: The lanes divided in half - the left half for the half marathoners and the right side for the marathoners. Talk about being in the minority. A pack of ladeez that I had been running with abandoned me as they picked up their pace and dug down for their last half-mile. It was just me and a dude whose shirt I kept reading and re-reading for the next 5 miles: some quote from the Bible about Christ and something about the Philippians. I kept looking at that word - 'Philippians' - and made up stories in my head about its relation to the Philippines. 

Halfway point (13.1 miles) - 1:43:30. I silently hooray-ed to myself. Slightly ahead of target, but feeling strong and confident! 

Miles 13-16: The dwindled race field made things lonely...even boring. I picked up the pace a little and aimed for a 7:45 pace. I felt fine and dandy. The sun was starting to peek out and I was so happy that I'd gone with shorts and a tank. There were a few marathoners with long sleeves or capri tights and I wasn't jealous of them one bit! 

Engility reunion...Daniel Head raising the roof
and my heel-strike in full action!
Around mile 14 or 15, I caught up with my lucky leprechaun coworker Daniel Head. He was in full-on St Patty's Day mode...kudos to him for running in a tutu and a wig! 

Miles 17-20: Enter the pain cave. My quads started to feel as if they were stabbed with invisible knives. The pain wasn't intense enough to cause me to stop or even slow down, but I did think about whether it'd get any worse and deteriorate into quad cramping issues. 

I cursed silently to my quads. They had held up fine in my two 20-mile runs during peak training - and now at mile 17, they decided it was payback time. I mentally blocked the pain by focusing on catching up to a chick in a pink tank ahead of me. Once I passed her, I focused on a girl wearing a Harvard tanktop who was knock-kneed. 

Miles 21-25: These weren't dull butter knives anymore; these were full-on, freshly-sharpened Wusthof steak knives stabbing my quads. Youch! I tried to pick up the pace and focus on not letting my hips drop. Just trying to think of maintaining a strong push-off and even hip balance helped me to block *some* of the pain from my quads out. OK, I could do this! I tried to keep a consistent 7:45 pace but my official chip time shows that I actually slowed to an 8:01 pace the last 10K. 

The lower the visor, the further into the pain cave I am.

Mile 26: The stadium was in sight! That hideous structure suddenly looked so appealing! I was finito. But then I saw Bart at the peak of a "hill" (more like a highway ramp) and got a final burst of energy. I was gonna do this and finish strong! 

Mile 26
Final turn was downhill ("yee-owch!" screamed my quads) and merged with the half-marathoners. I tried to kick it in for the last 200 yards, but in reality I was just swinging my arms just a bit more erratically. But I felt like I was flying through that finish line!!!! I heard cheers of "Go, Snapple!" and I did a thumbs up! 

Official finishing time: 3:25:43. 
Finished 25th Female!

  • Negative split! 
  • Boston qualified! 
  • Still have all my toenails! 
  • Can't walk down stairs! 
  • No ice cream at the finish line! 
  • Had to walk a mile and a half back to the car.  
No ice cream in the post-race grub but got a Chocolate Milk...has never tasted better!!! 
Nutrition: Took a Clif Shot Block every 4 miles. Managed to muster down 2 Clif Mocha gels - nursed them for about 3 miles each. A sip of water at every aid station. Finished a little dehydrated but no stomach issues!

Post-race Interview: A Run Washington staff stopped me as I was chugging water and asked about my race. I blabbered on about how it felt while stuffing my face with potato chips. Some snippets of my interview here!

A shout-out to Phebe - best friend and coach! Little do people know that my twin sister is a 2-time Olympic Trials marathoner...her training plan got me to my goal time!
And, of course, Bart! What a stud - he made me laugh every time I saw him on the course. 

Super Congrats to teammate Courtney Fulton and coworker Daniel Head who also ran the full marathon!!! And teammates Jenny Leehey, Steph Ewert, Bryan Frank, Stephanie Brown and Holli Finneren who ran the half! 

That night, I celebrated by hobbling my way to a bachelorette party for my friend Dawn Riebeling, who ran the half and PR'ed! A cooking lesson, a four-course meal, and some great wine and conversation was the perfect way to cap off a tiring day! 

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