Location: Washington, D.C.
Temperature: A chilly 36 degrees at the start
Official Time: 4:15:48 (9:46 pace) for 26.2 miles
Garmin Time: 4:15:49 (9:39 pace) for 26.48 miles
Place in Age Group: 161/305
Overall Place: 1662/2872
The Weather: Back in October when I registered for this race, I pictured the perfect Spring morning for race day. A low of 40. A high of 56. It was going to be magical. But of course, that didn't happen. Three days out from the race, forecasters were calling for a HIGH of 40. I wasn't quite sure what I thought about that. But, as it ends up, the weather was pretty much perfect. Sure, it was chilly as we waited in the corral, but by mile 4, I had ditched my gloves and was feeling comfortable in my outfit choice. By mile 20, I was happy it wasn't any warmer.
Cruising to a Sub-2 Half Split: There was a time, like seven months ago, that I would have killed for a sub-2 half marathon. And even when I finally accomplished that goal, it was tough (despite Tall Mom's best efforts to make it easy on me). But on Saturday, it felt like the easiest thing ever. I ran the first 12 miles of the race with IronJ and KC (they ran the half) and we chatted pretty much the whole time. It was so much fun to run with them and such an amazing feeling to look at my Garmin when we hit mile 13 and have it read 1:58. The coolest thing was that even though I knew we were racing, it never felt like it.
A new PR: One of my running goals in 2011 was to cut 30+ minutes off my marathon time. I knew as long as another catastrophe didn't strike on race day, I would be able to do it. Although I did have a few missteps during the race, my first half was strong enough to carry me through to the finish and I walked away with a 33:50 PR. And a marathon time I can be proud of.
Racing/Traveling with the Posse: I think this one's a given. Yes, running is an individual sport. And yes, on race day, you are the one who needs to bring it. But, I don't think there is anything better than sharing your running triumphs and struggles with your friends. Every single moment of our race weekend was awesome. From the expo ...
to the start ...
to the finish line ...
It was perfect.
Making it to the Start in One Piece: National was marathon number four for me. And it was the FIRST time I made it to the start without a total catastrophe. For my first and second marathons, I showed up with an ankle injury and walked miles of the races. For number three, I caught a stomach bug and spent 15 minutes of the race in the bathroom. But nothing was going to stop me this time ...
Our outfits: We looked fab. Obviously. (Note: there was a Yankee fan on the course who tried to hate on us. I beat his sorry butt.)
G "coaching" me to the Finish: Last November, I got the privilege of pacing G in the last 4.5 miles of her marathon. She walked away with a HUGE PR. I walked away able to take some credit for it. On Saturday, G got to do the same for me. And thank God she did.
The last four miles of the race were tough. Mentally, I was there, but physically, not so much. "The Quads" were failing me. And the hills weren't helping. But G helped me push through. She knew how to keep me moving. Even if that meant threatening me. (Note: I walk through water stations since I can't run and drink. She told me that if I didn't start running again that she would take a picture of me walking and post it for everyone to see. I'm going to show it to you anyway ...)
I couldn't be more thankful for G and all that she does for me. She is truly the best running partner EVER.
Meeting Bloggy Buddies: Although I failed to take a single picture, I did meet a few bloggers before and during the race. I ran into Katie as we were walking to the start. I spotted Jen in my corral. And Rachel introduced herself during mile 2.
Post-Race Recovery Drinks: Milkshakes. Enough said.
The Course (scenery): OK, I will admit that I wasn't overly concerned with what was going on around me, but every time I think back to the views along the course, all I can think of is UGLY. I know we ran past several historical landmarks. I've been told there were cherry blossoms. But, the parts that stuck out to me were ugly and boring. Behind RFK stadium - ugly and boring. Along the water in Anacostia - ugly, boring and scary.
The Course (length): So, I know that most courses run long. But, this race was INSANE. When I finished, my Garmin read 26.48. Not too bad, but considering that my watch lost the signal at least three times while we ran through tunnels (one that was at least .3 long), this course was SUPER long. (Note: SpeeDee's Garmin read 26.9)
The Course (topography): I knew this course was hilly going into it, but I was not expecting rolling hills for the last three miles (most of the HUGE climbs were in the first half). My legs were shot at that point and I struggled. If you are going for a PR, this is likely not the course for it.
Failing to Pick Up G at Mile 21: After I split from IronJ and KC, I was looking forward to meeting up with G at mile 21. I was mentally prepared for it. I knew that I had eight solo miles and then she'd help me make that final push. But, when I got to mile 21, she wasn't there. And at mile 22, she wasn't there either. I was convinced that she thought she missed me and that she had left. But, rather, a crappy course map and a horribly placed Metro stop in Anacostia prevented her from getting there. When I finally saw her at mile 22.5, I felt like a new person. Such a mental boost.
Almost Missing the Start: The logistics of getting to the start were horrendous. It took over a half hour to get our car out of valet. The traffic was crawling. Shuttles were running late. The Metro only opened an hour before the start. At 6:40 a.m., we were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic about a mile from the start. All I could think was that this was going to be the catastrophe that ruined my race. Scared that we wouldn't make it in time, we got out of the car and walked. Total fiasco.
Hitting the Wall at Mile 13.5: I knew that running with my friends for the first half was going to keep me on pace. And I knew that splitting from them was going to be hard. But I wasn't prepared for what would hit me just after mile 13.
When the half marathoners ran to the finish, I was feeling strong. I saw Katye on the course and told her I felt good. Then she snapped this picture, and it must have sucked the life out from me.
Less than a half mile later, I had lost my mojo. The course was desolate. And ugly. The marathoners were sent on a loop behind RFK stadium through the parking lots. There were no spectators and I knew there was a hill coming up. It defeated me. I couldn't imagine running another 13 miles. I didn't even know if I could make it to G at mile 21. It took me until mile 18 to get my groove (and my hope) back.
Cramping at Mile 24: When G picked me up at mile 22.5, I told her I couldn't quench my thirst. I had finished the liter of water in my hydration pack and had drank at the last two water stops. My face was caked with salt. My fingers looked like sausages. I needed some sodium, but there was none to be found. By mile 23, my quads were cramping up every hill. I did my best to run through the pain, but I didn't want to risk an injury either. I would make it 3/4 of the way up and need to massage my quads. And then I could start running again. It was rough. And I'm still feeling the burn.
Complete and Utter Chaos: I'm not really sure that anything ran smoothly with this race. From the disorganized start to the lack of mile markers to confusion at the finish, this race was a cluster. Unless some serious changes are made, I will never run this race again. And I wouldn't recommend it for anyone else ...
Up Next: Another attempt at a sub-1:55 half at the Dismal Swamp Stomp Half Marathon, 4/16/11