Marine Corps Marathon Recap

Ok, so the Marine Corps Marathon was now almost 2 1/2 weeks ago and this race recap is definitely long overdue, but I’ve still been processing the day and trying to figure out what went wrong. I still don’t have answers and I probably never will, but I’m ok with that, so without further ado, here are my thoughts on the Marine Corps Marathon. . .

We arrived in Washington, D.C., on Friday afternoon and took the Metro from the airport to our hotel. We got checked in and decided to head to the Expo that evening instead of having to rush Saturday morning. It was super fast getting through packet and shirt pick up and then we headed to check out all the vendors. It was fun seeing everything, and stopping to chat at a few booths. Ryan stopped to talk to some people that provide PTSD dogs and got some info from them. I stopped and chatted at the Nuun booth and got to meet one of my fellow Nuun ambassadors. Then I met my fellow Generation UCAN Ambassador Gary who was working at The Stick booth. It was nice meeting him in person finally and chatting with him for a little bit. And then I finally got to meet Varun, one of the head guys at GenUCAN!! He hooked me up with a few samples of UCAN’s new hydration/electrolyte mix and even gave Ryan a shaker bottle. It was really nice meeting him finally after being an ambassador for the company for a year and a half now (and yes, I’m still am ambassador for them). I’m sad that I didn’t get any pictures at the expo, especially of my Nuun peeps, Gary, and Varun, but my phone was dead.

So we finished up at the expo just as they were closing and headed back to our hotel. Thankfully there was a Subway right as we got off the Metro, so we grabbed dinner on our way. We also stopped at a Giant grocery store (the name was Giant, but it also reflected the size) and got a few things for the room.

Saturday morning I did my 2 mile shakeout run on the hotel treadmill and then we headed down to the restaurant at the hotel for breakfast before heading to the Pentagon for the Kids’ Mile races. Robert was in the last heat and we got there in plenty of time (unlike some other families). He ended up lining up near the back, but finished near the middle of the pack! I got some pictures from that, but I’ll save them for another blog post. After chilling in the hotel room for a while, we headed out again to go to the Team RWB pasta dinner, sponsored by the DC chapter of RWB. We kind of went the wrong way when we got off the Metro, despite having a map and directions, and we ended up walking well over a mile more than we needed to and through a rather sketchy part of town, but we eventually found the place and had a great dinner of all kinds of pasta and pizza. We figured out the right way to get back to the Metro and it turned out to only be maybe a half mile walk. Oops! After we got back to the hotel, I laid out all my gear and took my “Flat Lani” picture (yes, I really used just about all of that pictured) and then we headed to the hotel pool for a little while. And then it was time for bed.


My alarm went off at 4:30 and I headed to the bathroom to get ready – that’s my usual getting ready spot so as to not wake up the guys. I had my English muffin with peanut butter, mixed up my UCAN (2 packets for before and 2 packets mixed into a gel put into 3 gel pouches for during), and got ready to go. I dropped my Nuun tablets (all 4 of them!) into my hydration pack, double checked to make sure I had everything and headed out. I stopped at the ice machine to fill the hydration pack and then the bathroom in the lobby for water and then headed to the Metro. Holy crowded!! And it was even worse when we got to the Pentagon stop and EVERYONE was trying to get out. Metro rides really should be free on race mornings and then we wouldn’t have to worry about the turnstiles. I ended up missing the Team RWB group photo because of the backup at the metro, the long walk to the start area, and security getting into the start area. I basically had time to check my bag, hit the port-a-potty, grab a selfie and head to the start.


While walking to the start, I was able to grab a picture of the skydivers bringing in the American flag (a 7800 square foot one!!!). This was actually a tandem and one of the skydivers was Medal of Honor recipient Kyle Carpenter (not only did he jump in with the flag, but he went on to run the marathon and finished in 5 hours and 12 minutes!).


They also had some Marine Corps Ospreys fly over during the start, so I grabbed a quick picture of them before I shut my phone off to save the battery for after the race.


The first 5 miles were a lot hillier than I expected. I had looked at the course profile, but the elevations didn’t register. The Army 10 Miler is pretty flat, and I was kind of basing my expectations off that. Bad idea. At least it prevented a too-fast start. For what it was worth. . .  I felt pretty good for the first half of the race and was on pace for a PR. And then the wheels fell off. Hitting a wall at mile 13 of a marathon?? Huh?? What kept me going was knowing that I would see my guys along the Mall. There was a long stretch (a couple of miles maybe? Everything kind of ran together for most of the race.) where there was a motivational sign every few feet. It was fun reading all of them. And then we got to the Mall and there were my guys – on the side opposite where I expected them. That was a wonderful surprise seeing them there! I got some hugs and some encouragement from them and headed toward the Capitol building and around to the Carousel side of the Mall where I knew I’d see my guys again. I passed off my empty gel pouches to them, got more hugs and encouragement and headed off again. I already knew at that point (maybe mile 17 or 18?) that a PR wasn’t going to happen, but I was bound and determined to finish no matter what. I was reduced to walking lots and lots at at time – some of my splits were in the 19 minute per mile range. I did, however, “Beat the Bridge” and finally got a second wind about mile 25.5 or so and I was able to finish strong (at least strong compared to what I had been doing). The final hill to Iwo Jima was a lot steeper than I expected, but I charged right up that hill and crossed the finish line!

Here’s a picture that I had another finisher take with my phone while I was waiting in line for the official photos.


Here’s my official finisher’s photo (I bought all my pics in digital version, so they’re mine to use as I like).


The Iwo Jima Monument actually does have a flag on it. 🙂


Here’s my Garmin time – official time was 5:50:49. And yes, it was 26.7 miles – the extra half mile came from not being able to run the tangents and weaving around people. It’s all good. Despite it being over an hour slower than my goal time of 4:30-4:40, it was still my 2nd fastest marathon. There’s always next time for a PR. It just wasn’t my day. Here are my splits:

Miles 1-5 – 11:07, 11:09, 10:41, 10:25 (huge downhill), 10:53
Miles 6-10 – 10:47, 11:10, 11:03, 10:59, 11:01
Miles 11-15 – 11:21, 11:06, 11:26, 12:17, 12:11
Miles 16-20 – 13:11, 13:05, 14:05, 13:58, 16:25
Miles 21-26.2(7) – 15:51, 18:10, 18:51, 15:10 (got a small second wind), 19:49, 14:36, 11:08 for the last .7 (at least I finished strong!)


After the race, I got my medal from a Marine and my goodie box with food (nothing much I wanted to eat in there) and a bottle of water. I stopped and sat on a pile of pallets with a fellow Team RWB Eagle – he actually helped me sit down because I was about to fall down. After sitting for a while, I felt better and went off to find my guys. They were easy to find with their RWB shirts on, and we walked through the rest of the finishers area together. I got my “jacket” – a paper-ish/cloth-y zip up jacket with a hood. It was actually pretty nice and definitely helped keep me warm after! We finally found the baggage trucks and got my bag and headed to the Metro to head back to the hotel. It was a long wait, but a well-maintained line to get there. Once back to the hotel, I took the boys to the pool for a bit. They played and I sat on the steps with my legs in the cool water. I would have loved to have taken a cool and/or epsom salt bath, but our bathtub drain stopper wasn’t working. The pool worked. After about 1/2 hour or so, we headed back to the room. I grabbed a nice warm shower, put my compression sleeves back on (clean ones, though), and we headed out to go to the Silver Diner for dinner. We had heard a lot of good stuff about them and they were one of the race sponsors, so we figured we’d check it out. It was about a half hour Metro ride, but I managed to keep my feet up while we were on the train.


We finally arrived at the right Metro stop and after a short walk, we were there! It was a very short wait for a table and it was definitely worth the Metro ride and wait for a table! I ordered a burger with mushrooms and Swiss on it, fries, and a local craft beer!! It was all delicious.


After we ate, we made our way back to our hotel and headed to bed. I definitely slept good!! I’ll leave you with a picture of me wearing my shirt and my medal.

Selfie of shirt and medal

From Sneakers to Sundresses

Yesterday morning I got up early and into my Team RWB Shirt and patriotic running skirt, got Thomas up and dressed and brought him to my friend C’s (Ryan & Robert were at Scout camp this weekend). Then I headed to the gym on post for the Fort Rucker Ten Mile Run Off and Team Relay. I had a lot of fun chatting with my fellow runner friends before the race for a little bit, and then we were off on a hilly 10 miles! There’s a mile-long downhill around mile 3, but since it’s an out and back course, that means there’s a mile-long climb (about 115 feet elevation change) at mile 7. It was a beautiful morning for a race – and decent temps instead of the usual insane heat we have this time of year. My original goal was a 10:30 pace, but when I hit 5 miles in less than 50 minutes, I figured I’d shoot for a sub-10 pace. I killed the uphill climb and finished out the last 3 miles. With a 1/4 mile to go, I started my final kick to get in under 1:40. My watch beeped at 10 miles and the finish line was still off in the distance. Ugh! Race was a 1/10 of a mile long. Ok, so you non-runners are like Big deal. But when you’ve already run 10 miles, especially with that big hill and you start your kick when you need to, you’re done at the distance and the extra seems like forever. I did finish with a 9:56 pace and my time was 1:40:05 – so for all practical purposes, I ran a sub-1:40 10 mile. LOL!! It was still about 2 minutes slower than last year on this course, but last year I had been training for a marathon (which was the week prior) so I was in a little better running shape. Here’s a pic of me heading to the big downhill at mile 3:

Fort Rucker Ten Miler 3 May 14 Crop

After the race was over, I hung around and chatted with my friends and stayed for the awards. They don’t do age groups for this race – just the top 12 males and females. I was like 18th or so, but I’m ok with that. I was pretty much just using it as a long run. Once everything I was over, I headed home to eat and shower and relax for a little bit before getting dressed and headed back out.

I had been invited to a bridal shower for my friend S and it was a Kentucky Derby-themed one, and the invitation said the attire was sundresses and fancy hats. I had to borrow a hat from my friend K at church. It was a lot of fun getting dressed up and hanging out with other ladies (some of whom had also run the 10 miles in the morning) and showering S with jewelry (that was her request in lieu of gifts). She’s going to be making a jewelry bouquet for her wedding and she wanted to have little pieces of all her friends! We played some fun games and ate some delicious food. The hostess had punch and mojitos in small mason jars, so they were all pre-portioned. Really neat idea! They also had mint juleps, but I didn’t have any of those. I did have a jar of punch and 2 mojitos. Here’s a picture of me in my finery!


After the bridal shower was done, I headed back to C’s house to pick Thomas up. He had had a lot of fun with little E, C’s daughter who is 6 months older than Thomas is. They played and ate and took a nap and when I got there, they were out back in E’s little pool. After I got changed, we headed to the Children’s Festival in a local park and got to go on some bouncies and sit in a firetruck and play on the playground for a while. It was a fun way to end the day.

Beach Blast Triathlon Recap

This morning I raced my first Olympic distance triathlon – the Beach Blast Triathlon in Port St. Joe, FL, right on the Gulf of Mexico. I was up about 4:45 and had a slice of leftover veggie pizza from last night’s dinner and got ready to head out at 5:20. I said goodbye to Ryan and Thomas (Robert was still sleeping) and headed down with my bike and gear bag. I was riding to the race area with my friends O and M. (I also rode down here from Fort Rucker with them, and the guys joined us later in the evening so Robert didn’t have to miss school.) O was racing his first-ever triathlon and was also doing the Olympic distance.

We got to the race site, about 2 1/2 miles from our hotel and got a great spot in transition. We hooked up our bikes and got a little bit of our transition areas set up before heading to body marking. After getting all marked up (both upper arms and outsides of both legs with our race number and our age on our left calf), we walked across the highway to the beach to check out the swim area. Yes, we had to cross the highway to get from the swim to transition. Strange – and it was a LONG run. Once we were done checking out the swim area, we headed back up to finish getting our transition areas set up, final trips to the port-a-potty, race nutrition (2 packs of Generation UCAN in 12 ounces of water for me), and wetsuits on. And then we headed to the swim start for our race briefing and then it was go-time!

The swim was supposed to be .7 miles, and it was quite short, even after factoring in the run to the transition area – only ended up to be .45 with the run to T1. I started off much too fast on the swim and my first loop was miserable – a lot of breaststroke and treading water was involved. And then my goggles fogged up – they’ve NEVER done that before, so I’m not sure what was up with that. My second loop was much better as I finally got into a good rhythm with my breathing and everything. I hit the beach and began the run up to the transition area. I finished the swim in 18:16.

T1 took me 3:33 – much too long, but I had some balance issues with cleaning my feet off (the area transition was had little pokey things in the grass and I wanted to make sure I didn’t have any stuck to my feet inside my socks) and in the process of losing my balance, I knocked my helmet and glasses off my bike. I finally got everything together and headed out on the bike.

The bike was supposed to be 24.8 miles and ended up being about 24.5. I felt really good on the bike despite my girl bits starting hurting about mile 13 or so and my left hand going numb starting about mile 5. It was a nice flat ride, other than the 2 climbs on a big bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway – it was an out-and-back course, so we had a bridge climb each direction. I passed 4 people while on the bike and drank my whole 20  ounce bottle of Nuun on the course. It was nice being able to ride in my big ring for most of the time (I only shifted to my small ring on the bridge climbs) and I was really happy with my almost 16 mph average speed! When I got near the transition area, my guys were there with M to cheer me on and it was really nice seeing them and seeing how excited the boys were to see me! I finished the bike in 1:33:41.

T2 took me 3:00 – WAY TOO LONG to go from bike to run. I need to work on speed laces for my shoes so I can save a few seconds with that. I also took the time to consume another packet of UCAN in 8 ounces of water, and I’m glad I did that. I’m also glad that I had taken a hat and my hand-held water bottle with me for just in case. It got warm toward the end of the bike.

With race belt and hat on and water in hand, I headed out on the run. I’m really glad I had the hand-held with 16 ounces of Nuun in it – I drank more often than the water stops. The water stops would have plentiful enough for a 50-60 degree 10K, but in the mid to upper 70s, not so much. I did grab a cup of water at every stop and poured it over my head and down the front and back of my tri top. It helped some, but I was still pretty much done. I did my run/walk ratio of 9:1, walked thru all the water stops, and walked a few more times as well. Everyone was really encouraging everyone else, and that was really nice. Finally the finish was in sight and I finished strong in 1:03:29. My final finish time was 3:01 and change. I finished 103rd overall and 4th in my age group.

There were other members of Team RWB there from our Fort Rucker Chapter as well as a couple of other chapters and we hung out and chatted together after – and got a group picture. Ryan and the boys had worn their RWB shirts as well and got to be a part of the picture! My Team RWB tri suit worked really well and I got a lot of high-5s  on the run part of the course from other Eagles as well as others. They had great food for after the race – hot dogs, tater salad, pasta salad, chips, bananas, Oreos (yes, I had some of those), beer (I did not have one), sodas, water, and gatorade. I had 2 hot dogs without buns and OMG were they good!! I don’t normally like hot dogs, but I must have needed the sodium in them. We stayed for the awards – lots of RWB members placed both overall and in age groups. Of course, they only do age group awards through 3rd place, so my 4th place wasn’t quite enough. But it’s ok! I had a great day!

And since I mentioned my friend O at the beginning, he did really well and I’m proud of him for finishing his first tri, and an Olympic one at that! His wife M got lots of awesome pics, so maybe I’ll be able to “steal” some of them from her and share them at some point.