I had stayed with my friend and her fiance the night before the race, so it only took 20 minutes for him to drive me close to the start. I thought I'd have more than enough time to get to my meeting point by 6:45 when he dropped me off at 6:20, but I grossly underestimated the clusterfuck of 30,000 people running a race. I shuffled along with the large crowd of people dressed in trash bags or huddled with raggedy blankets and I had a fleeting feeling of being a refugee.
I got into the main start area around 7am and hit the portapotty as soon as I got there. I couldn't see the Charity Village (where I was hoping to drop my bag), but I assumed the tent labeled "Information" would help me. Nope. Actually, no one know what the hell I was talking about when I said Charity Village and before I knew it, the time was 7:30 and everyone was running to the start and I still hadn't found Alyssa. I waited and waited and watched everyone else leave and finally at 7:55, I found her. My happiness level was like Christmas and a birthday combined.
We had to pull a Dukes of Hazzard move over a jersey wall and book it to the start area (meanwhile, I still hadn't seen the fucking Charity Village). We tried to push as far forward in the corrals as possible, but still ended up back behind the 4:30 pace groups. By 4:30, I think it more accurately meant "people who hope to one day run a 4:30 marathon".
|This is how crowded it was until mile 20|
We spent the first 10 miles weaving endlessly and trying to avoid ice patches. We saw people fall on the bridges, so it was a real concern. It took just 6 miles for me to be able to feel my feet again, but it was kind of cool to see the massive herds of people blowing puffs of steam as they ran. The first 8 miles had the only noteworthy hills of the race. The hills were short, but pretty steep. They wouldn't have been so bad if the people in front of us hadn't slowed to a achingly slow pace. Hill running is painful, but hill running at a really slow pace is really painful.
After we got through Georgetown, we hit a long flat stretch. Around this time my left ankle started to hurt. It's happened twice before and I've had to cut long runs short because of it. It's a muscle strain type of pain on the inside of my ankle that even extends up to my calf. It's pretty painful and it was very unwelcome on a race day. Also around this time I started to get the sinking feeling that I had to pee and I wasn't going to be able to wait until the finish.
Every single portapotty on the race course had a line and I wasn't trying to PR at this race, but the thought of standing on line just seemed reprehensible to me. I held it and then I held it some more. I was even thinking, "Maybe I'll just spring a slow leak and this problem will solve itself!". Alyssa was super cool about my inability to force my body to reabsorb my own urine and we finally had to stop at mile 17.5 so I could pee. It was literally the most wonderful pee I've ever taken, and that's saying a lot because that portapotty was rank.
At mile 20 we hit the 14th Street bridge and entered one of the most miserable 2 miles I've ever run. It was long, boring and everyone just seemed miserable and it also seemed like everyone was walking. Alyssa and I trudged along and finally got back in neighborhood areas. The last 2 miles were back on the highway and were not high on the "fun" scale, but the last 2 miles of a marathon rarely are giggles and sunshine. I will point out that I restrained myself from shanking the 88th person who told me "You're almost there!" at mile 23.
We hit mile 26 and I thought "NOW we're almost done" and then I saw the last .2 was a steep uphill. It was steep enough that I'm not even sure I would enjoy running down the hill. It didn't matter because we were done! My Garmin said 26.5 miles in 4:01, but I had auto pause on, so the chip time of 4:05 is way more accurate. Stupid bathroom break.
|The guy who took this picture ran the marathon barefoot in a full tux|
Once we crossed over the finish, we entered a Marine-run assembly line where we were handing a space blanket, gatorade, water, and a box of snacks. We shuffled long for about half a mile until we got to the UPS bag check. Those guys are good at what they do, I've never seen anything faster (and accurate!) than that. I didn't even get a chance to open my mouth and my bag was placed in my arms. We put our warm layers back on and then I started my quest to find my ride.
My friend's fiance was at the finish and he said he was at the Pacer's tent. Here's the problem: I could not find the tent to save my life. My marathon-addled brain could not follow the simple instructions of where the tent was located, so I ended up wandering like a refugee dragging my belongings in a plastic bag for over an hour. Finally, he changed his position to a tent that I could actually find, so I didn't have to end up sleeping there at the finish line and starting a new life with my space blanket and squeeze tube of nutritionally sound "hummus dip" provided to me in my rations box.
Once I found him, it was still a long walk back to his car and over 30 minutes later, I was finally able to sit down. He did show me the Pacer's tent and I had actually walked right past it. Running 26 miles makes me mentally incompetent.
After the most wonderful hot shower ever and 2 slices of pizza, I left my friend's place and made it home in time to give Faith her bath and put her to bed. She was very glad to see me, not just because I brought home rice crispie treats. I've been icing my ankle and I think it's fine, it just hurt like a bitch today.
Good things about the Marine Corps Marathon:
- Marines are the best water stop helpers ever. My water bottle has never been refilled so quickly before.
- I got to see the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial and it was breathtaking. The race saved me the trouble of traveling downtown just to see it. :)
Bad things about the Marine Corps Marathon:
- Charity Village: why do you send me endless emails about premier bag checks and special portapotties if you are NOT CLOSE to the start line?
- Portapotty lines. Listen, I get that spectators need to pee too, but they shouldn't be making the lines longer at the runner portapotties.
- People. I have never attend an event that made me hate people as much as this race. The race never opened up and I was smelling someone's body odor the whole time or tripping over someone's foot.
Will I run MCM again? No, absolutely not. I get that some people really like this race, but for me, I'm going to stick to smaller races where it's not such a clusterfuck and I can actually run my own pace instead of the pace dictated by the herd of people boxing me in.
Ideally, I'll run tomorrow but I'll see how my ankle feels. Also, when I took my shoes off, one of my socks was all bloody and my little toe is to blame. Hopefully I can limp through 4 miles but I might take a day off instead.
It's 3 weeks until the JFK 50 and I ran 65 miles this week. Now it's taper time!