RACE REPORT // Marine Corps Marathon

Here it is, the unedited race report I sent my coach.  I'll provide all the color commentary for the race in Thursday's post.  Just too much to say and lump into one post.

Marine Corps Marathon
Sunday October 22, 2017
Arlington, VA

Forgot to check the weather, but it was in the high 50s and low humidity at race start

Official Time   6:44:54
Overall            19,835 out of 20,129
Female            9,135 out of 9,314
Division           1,171 out of 1,236

It’s easier to cut and paste my time breakdown from the MCM page than it is to type it out.  See below for my splits/pace

MCM Splits

Got up at 5:20 but didn’t start fueling until 6:00.  I did it intentionally so that I was taking in fuel every 30 minutes until the start of the race.

6:00 AM Muscle Milk (180 calories)
6:30 AM Gu (100 calories)
7:00 AM Muscle Milk (180 calories)
7:30 AM Gu (100 calories)
8:00 AM 3 Shot Bloks

I continued fueling every 30 minutes until around three-and-a-half hours in.  I don’t remember when I stopped fueling, but I hit the course with enough fuel (Shot Bloks) to last me 6 hours and I crossed the finish line with two hours worth of fuel still on me. 

Fueling every 30 minutes leading into the race worked like a charm.  I have no idea why I haven’t been doing this all along.  Prior to Sunday I slammed fuel two hours prior to race start and then worried if it would get digested in time so I didn’t feel the need to barf it back up in the first 30-minutes.  But I think this worked better because it was more of a slow continual burn kind of thing, I didn’t feel rushed to eat, so there wasn’t a ton of stuff sloshing around in my belly at race start.  I also started drinking 32ozs of Powerade with a Nuun tablet at 6:00 AM when I started eating and finished it right as my group started moving toward the start line.

I started at the front of the 5:30 corral, not knowing what I was going to run.  I intentionally did not do the math to see what I’d have to maintain to hit a given finish time.  I didn’t want to know, nor did I want the unneeded pressure.  I went out there knowing I could maintain 150 bpm and that was good enough.

I carried my Orange Mudd handheld water bottle with a capacity of 24 ozs.  I started the race with 24 ozs of Gatorade w/Nuun and decided as soon as I emptied it, I’d pitch the water bottle and attach the handheld sleeve to my race belt.  But I didn’t do that.  Every time it was empty, I’d stop at a water station and get it filled with water or Gatorade or a combination of both.  That worked REALLY well.  And what also helped immensely, was that even though I was at the back of the pack, those awesome Marines still had cold water and Gatorade waiting for us Walking Deaders bringing up the rear.  That race director should give other race directors tips, because the fluids were never ending.  I didn’t stop the first eight miles.  And then I stopped every other stop (they were approximately two miles apart) and around mile 20, I stopped every stop, because closer to the end, I was completely consuming the 24-ozs I was getting between every station. 

I salted every time I ate.  And when I stopped eating, I still continued to salt.  The last four miles, I think I salted every 20 minutes because I was starting to get fuzzy in my head and wasn’t sure if it was lack of electrolytes even though I was grabbing the Gatorade, sometimes watering it down, every time it was offered or if it was fatigue.

People said it was “hot” but I think the hottest it got was maybe 73, it only felt hot because we were running and in some places there was no shade.  But no matter how tired or out of sorts I get during a given race, the one thing I always know to do is salt and hydrate with water and electrolytes.

The breakdown started at mile 11.  I’m so used to it all being over at 13.1, that when I hit mile 11, I freaked out and began to panic that at mile 13.1, I had to start at the very beginning and do 13.1 again.  I stopped and walked about five minutes and then did a run/walk combo that eventually led to all running and I was fine again until right before mile 15 when my left upper hip/butt began to ache/tingle and I knew the stupid sciatic nerve was about to start hollerin’.  Halfway through mile 15, I began to run/walk.  By mile 16, I knew I would most likely have to walk the last ten miles because my left lower back was beginning to cramp and my left lower body was angry.  I can’t describe it.  I wasn’t in pain, but every time my left foot hit the ground when I ran, it was like someone was hitting a bruise that reverberated up and down my left side.

I was told that I had to be at some bridge by 1:15 PM otherwise I’d be taken off the course and I limp/ran/pushed to make it to that bridge which I think was around mile 20.  I resolved within myself that I would make it to the finish line under my own power and there was no way in hell I was going to be pulled off the course. Once I hit the bridge (with plenty of time to spare) it was all about figuring out how to make it to the finish line.

MCM final.jpg

I started to cry when I saw the 25-mile mark and again when I saw the mile 26 mark.  It was a horribly ugly race, but I finished.

As a side note, I know personal audio isn’t allowed on the full Ironman course so I shouldn’t get used to using it during a marathon, but I still wanted to run this race with music.  So I took my phone and Bluetooth headphones along and decided I’d wait until halfway through the race to turn it on.  I didn’t turn it on until mile 23 when I really needed a boost.  Looking back, I was surprised that I went that long.  It was a great course, the weather was great, the support on the course is the best I’ve ever seen in 17-years of doing road races.  I think I may want to run it again…but this time for real! 

The oddest thing about this race for me was, I was calm going in.  Really calm.  I didn’t stress.  I slept well the night before, I think I only woke up once.  I didn’t have bubble guts at the start.  I did have to pee a lot.  When we were standing waiting for the gun, I had to pee again, but I thought it was my nerves and it would eventually or I would stop at a porta-potty.  But every group of porta-potties we passed in the first 12 or so miles had runners waiting and I didn’t want to have to stop and wait that long, so I kept going.  And my bladder kept filling.  I learned yesterday that I can run/walk for 6.5 hours with a full bladder.  I thought I could just let it go while I was running, but it takes forever for me to pee in my wetsuit while I’m swimming, and I didn’t have the mental fortitude to override my potty training to convince my bladder it’s okay to let go while I was running.  So I held it (and other subsequent arriving fluid) until after I crossed the finished line.  All that bladder talk to say, there was no fear going in and that was odd, but really nice.

Every race I run, every hard workout I do has always been about what’s going on in my head.  It’s never about whether or not I have the physical ability to perform how you’ve outlined for a given workout.  When I freaked out yesterday at mile 11 and took the time to walk it out and regroup, when I started running after walking, I was able (for a mile or so) to turn off my mind and trust that my legs would keep moving.  I’ve struggled with the mental aspect since day one when I started running ½ marathons back in 2001.  I’m not sure how to conquer it.  But it’s something I HAVE to figure out how to override going into next season.  It’s one thing to do hotter ‘n hell one month then a marathon a couple months later, both of which tested my mental game (weak though it may be) in different ways.  But when you put the two back-to-back directly after an almost two-and-a-half mile swim, that’s a whole different sasquatch of a beast that I’ve gotta David and Goliath my way through.