On Saturday March 17th, 6:20 my alarm went off. I muttered a slur, rolled over and got up. 6:20 seemed to be a good compromise with a goal to leave the hotel at 7AM. My thoughts were; how much priming would a race require? If I wasn’t so nervous, I would have set my alarm for 6:40; if I didn’t have an insane fear of oversleeping.
I made a list the night before. Wake up, brush teeth, sports bra, tank top, running skirt, socks, (yes, I’m that paranoid; I take no chances in forgetting to wear pants), yoga underwear (a few runs I would forget and lets just say that hours of running and lacy thongs don’t make the greatest experience for those areas.), remove all jewelry, headphones, metrocard, black tea (I need caffeine, but coffee makes my tummy unhappy if I’m running), sunblock (weather report said it was going to hit 75), bodyglide (I have never ran in this outfit before and wasn’t sure how some things would rub me. I was not impressed with bodyglide at all and will say more on it later), and most importantly two Immodium pills (Not to be gross, but I wasn’t sure how those empanadas from this place that was only one level up from a street food cart; eaten the night before would make out on a 26 mile run, and they certainly did not seem to want to make their way out when I woke up (I tried and I know I’m gross)
I grabbed a full sized plain Pita Bread (secured the night before from Roti) to eat on the train. We made it out the house by 7Am and were set to arrive at the armory around 7:20. However, the metro decided to foil our plans. The train we were on broke down! We were stuck in a packed train full of runners for over 30 minutes. By the time i got out of the train it was 8:03. Tony went to bag check since we run at different paces. We made our goodbyes and I set out in search of the starting line. I knew Rock & Roll races were huge, I didn’t realize how huge… I was supposed to start in coral 4. I have never ran a race that had corals or this many runners. I was dumbstruck. There were 20 something corals, by the time I made it near the starting line coral 18 or something was starting. I was stuck in a swarm of slower runners. My body went into fight mode and I just felt the overwhelming need to get out of the crowd.
I don’t know what took over me; but I just had this overwhelming need to get past the crowd so I pushed myself forward. At mile 2 the first hill came and I cringed a bit inside. However, somehow by mile 6 or 7; I found the 3:40 pace group. That was probably that only thing that kept me from cringing as the hill at mile 6-7 was greater than expected. My ultimate desire to get away from the swarm of sweating runners propelled me forward.
I don’t remember which miles I drank water on. I know I tried Gatorade at one stop just to remind myself how nasty it is and stuck to water afterwards. I usually run 10-15 miles without water at home so during the race I only got water every third stop or so. However, when I do get water, I make a full stop, stand to the side and gulp it down before restarting my run. It takes a few extra seconds but is slightly more pleasant than running while drinking amist a sweat/drip of other runners.
Around mile 9, there was GU. I grabbed the first one I saw, some kind of orange flavor and took a small bit into my mouth. Not my favorite to say the least. My instinct was to spit it out (I don’t usually fuel on my run, I’m either hungry or not). I kept 1/3 of the pack in my mouth for it to slowly dissolved and chucked the rest of it to the side of the road. Around this time I decided it was a good idea to send some text messages/Facebook tweets while running.
I finished the half at 1:38:30 which is a new unofficial PR for me compared to my 1:40 finish before. Yes, there was a giant hill at mile 13 as the half marathoners were wrapping up. No, it was not fun.
After the split-off the crowd got sparser and I felt more at ease. Runkeeper tried to convince me I was at a 7:05 pace. Clearly wrong since it also told me that I was 14 miles in.
Around mile 15 was where I started to lose interest in running. However, I still felt strong. I’m not sure but I think I was kicking it with a 7:35 or so pace. It was around this point where I had this crazy idea I can catch up to Skinny Runner. I was starting to feel real modest about myself. The fact that RunKeeper kept trying to convince me I was at a 7:06 min pace didn’t help my modesty as all.
Then mile 20 hit. I was at 2:31:46. Images of BQ flashed through my brain in a happy dance. But little did I know, this is where the course ran out of places for us to run through. We started doing this random half mile runs just to come back that same half mile. We ran up and down stupid highway ramps. I wanted to die.
Lovely die face right there. At mile 21 there was a second Gu stop. This time I had a grape jelly one. I held onto it for about a mile, until I finally was able to force 1/3rd of the packet into my mouth. This one tasted much better, but still not that pleasant while running. The rest of the pack went to the trash.
Then mile 24 came. My legs, my body, my mind all decided they had enough. I hit the infamous WALL at the bottom of another giant rolling hill. I was sick of the crappy route, I was sick of the highway ramps, sick of the rap bands (I thought it was rock n roll, not rap marathon?) giving me migraines. I started compromising myself. Jog 3 minutes, walk 1 minute, walk up hill, sprint downhill. Somehow, the two miles came to an end and I started to see the finish line. I tried to sprint, but my legs refused to go faster. I also didn’t realize that marathon and half had their own finish line. There was no one around me and I was convinced I ran on the wrong side of the finish line!
Confused, ultimately confused and yet somehow I made it. When I crossed the line, the clock said 3:31 or something like that. Never did I imagine that I could run the fast. I later found out that my net time was 3:24:15. I felt out of my element in a good way!
Tony ran the half marathon which he enjoy. He finished in 1:58:37. His slowest time to date but still an awesome job for a nonrunner!
At the finish line they had fake Greek yogurt, bagels, bananas, apples, snickers marathon bras, some other organic granola bars and chocolate milk. Definitely enough food to feed your hunger. One tip, if you’re running with friends, pick a meeting spot before the race. The phone signals were jammed and I couldn’t make a single phone call in the area after the race.
Overall, if you ran the half, the course was a lot of fun. Hills are fun! For the first 13 miles… afterwards not so much. You run by the capital, brush against the Mall, hear some tunes, hear the crowd and are constantly in a rush of runners. The second half gets a bit rough but overall was still a good race in my book. If you’re interested here’s the course map and elevation chart. Although I think the elevation chart is very deceiving as sometimes you go through several rolling hills in one mile!
If you’re curious what I did after the race or the day before the race, here’s some recaps.
Washington DC Day One
Washington DC Day 2 Post Marathon