Tuesday, October 27, 2009

D.C. continued and the Marine Corps Marathon Race Report

Saturday morning we got up early to get a head start on the day. The plan was to see a few museums, have lunch with a high school classmate of mine who now lives in D.C. and then head back to the room to relax the rest of the day.

We started out by visiting the Native American Indian museum. While it was nice, we did a quick tour and headed to the Air and Space museum. We spent a little more time in there checking out some neat things. And of course, we had to experience the flight simulator. Brandi got to be the pilot and I was the gunman. Well, no one really showed us what to do. We were just told that the "red cone" needed to be at the top of the screen. When we got inside the simulator, Brandi put the red cone at the top of the screen and upside down we went. That got us both cracking up laughing. We had no idea what we were doing, so Brandi just kept spinning us round and round and I just kept pulling the trigger to shoot. I'm not sure how long we were actually in that thing, but I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. From there, we headed over to the Holocaust museum and walked through an exhibit called Danny's Story. It was very emotional. We walked through a little bit of the rest of the museum and then it was time to go. If I ever get back to D.C., I will spend more time there.

My friend and his roommate picked us up just in front of the Washington Monument and took us to eat at a nice little Mexican restaurant. Seemed kind of strange being from Texas to eat Mexican food in D.C., but I had the veggie fajitas and they were really good. I think the food was good, but unfortunately the service wasn't so great. They messed up one of the orders, sent it back, messed it up again, and eventually got it ready in a to-go box and comped that meal. Anyway, by then it started raining hard, so they we asked them to drive us straight back to the hotel. We took a little nap and then ordered some pasta that took forever to be delivered. After eating, it was time for bed.

Sunday morning we woke up early and got ready for the race. We had called for a taxi to take us to Union Station where we would then catch the metro to the Pentagon, which is where the runner's village was. Race morning was cold, but I knew that it would warm up as the day went on. I dressed in shorts, my long sleeve underarmour, and my race singlet. I had warm ups to put in my checked bag and a trash bag to keep me warm at the start until we started moving.
When we got to the village, we hit the port-o-potty and then gathered under a big tent to try and stay warm. Under the tent there was a Christian band and a minister conducting a non-denominational church service. That was pretty cool. We stayed there for a little longer and then headed over to drop off our bags. I waited as long as I could before shedding the sweats. It was COLD. I put my trash bag on (laugh all you want - I was warm) and we headed for the start line.
The national anthem was sung, we had a flyover by some kind of helicopter/jet, and then the cannon went off. The race was on.
When I signed up for this race back in April, I had planned on this being the only marathon of the year. I was planning on doing it step for step with my friend Brandi. However, in July Brandi had a back procedure that left her unable to train for the whole month of July and unable to really train properly at all. She had decided she would not wear her chip and she would just cut the course to meet me at certain points along the way. However, before we dropped our bags off this morning, she decided to see what she could do. She asked me to stay with her for a while to see how she felt and then she would tell me to go ahead.
So, when the race started we had decided to do a 3/1 run/walk combo. I knew going in this wouldn't be my fasted marathon, so what the heck. We started off at a fairly slow pace doing the 3/1 and it actually seemed to make the miles go by faster. The real "hills" of this race are in the first 6-7 miles, so it was actually nice to have the walk breaks. Here are the splits for the start:
Mile 1: 11:41
Mile 2: 12:36
Mile 3: 11:43
Mile 4: 11:46
Mile 5: 12:14
Mile 6: 11:39
Around this point I had to use the restroom. I NEVER have to do that during a race, but I guess since I wasn't sweating as much as normal, I had to go. I told Brandi I would run ahead to a port-o-potty and then if she passed me I would catch up with her. As I turned the corner to go ahead, I faced one of the hills of the race. Not a big hill compared to what I am use to, but big enough that I didn't get a huge lead on her. I found the port-o-potty and got in line. I spent five minutes in line, but made it up catching Brandi.
Mile 7: 17:09
Mile 8: 9:33
We settled back into our 3/1.
Mile 9: 11:58
Mile 10: 12:11
Mile 11: 11:05
At this point Brandi needed to walk. She told me to go on and run the rest at my pace. After being sure she was ok, I took off.
Mile 12: 10:02
Mile 13: 10:06
When I crossed the half marathon point and looked at my garmin I saw the half split of 2:35:16. I figured if I could do the second half just a little faster, I could break 5 hours. That became my new goal.
Mile 14: 10:24
Mile 15: 10:41
Mile 16: 10:38
Mile 17: 10:29
Mile 18: 10:59
Mile 19: 10:19
At this point, my left knee started to hurt a little due to either a tight lateral quad muscle (like has happened before) or IT band. I pulled over to stretch a bit and then continued on.
Mile 20: 11:24
Mile 21: 10:09
Mile 22: 11:06
At this point, we were on an out and back. I hate out and backs in marathons, especially at this late in the race. They get me mentally. From mile 22 to mile 23 felt like the longest mile EVER. But I finally got to 23.
Mile 23: 11:02
Mile 24: 10:50
Mile 25: 11:09
At this point I knew I would break 5 hours, but I made myself continue running. And let me tell you, that last .2 is not fun. It's a short but steep hill but I kept going. No walking for me at this point.
The last 1.2 miles was done in 13:08
Final results: 4:56:06
I couldn't believe it. As slow as I went in the beginning, and I run my 4th fastest marathon, just 12 minutes slower than my PR. Hmmmm. But that tells me that if I pace myself right in San Antonio in 3 weeks, then I may just be able to come up with a new PR.
Thoughts from the race.....
This was a good race and I'm glad I did it, but I doubt it will be one I go back to do. Ultimately, I'd like to do a marathon in all 50 states, so unless one is just OUTSTANDING I probably won't do it again. The course was good and for the most part flat. I got emotional reading the backs of peoples shirts. Lots of people were out there running in memory of a military person who had died in combat and when I saw the date-of-birth to date-of-death, I saw that most of those people were younger than me when they died. I am very thankful for their service to our country. And I liked having the marines at the water stations and at points along the course cheering us on and encouraging us. The best part of that is that when you finish the race, you get in line and a marine congratulates you and puts the medal around your neck. I almost cried when "my" marine put my medal on. Here he was thanking me for doing the race. Nope. Thank YOU for your service.
I got a little confused after that about which way I needed to go to collect my bag. I had gotten hot around mile 11 and taken off my under armour top and was now cold and wanted my sweats. I also wanted to get out of my tennis shoes. The other thing is that it took a while before you got to the post race drinks and food and I really needed it right away. Once I got it, I sat down to refuel for a bit and then got my bag and got warm. I waited for Brandi (who did manage to do the whole thing) and then we bought our finisher shirt before standing in the LONG line to catch the metro back.
When we got back to Union Station we decided to go ahead and eat dinner so we wouldn't have to get back out later. And when we got back to the hotel, we headed straight for the pool to soak our legs. Then it was back to the room for a shower and relaxation. One of the things I got suckered into buying at the expo was some compression socks. They seem to be all the rage now and lots of people claim they work, so I decided to give them a try. I put them on after my shower and kept them on until bed time. Whether it was the pool, the fact that I didn't push myself the first 10 miles, or the compression socks, my legs did feel better Monday morning than they usually do after a marathon. I wore the socks home on the plane and kept them on until about 9:30 Monday night. I'm almost back to normal today.
Overall, it was a great race and I'm glad we did it. But now it's time to look ahead. I've got the Race for the Cure 5k this Sunday and then the San Antonio Marathon November 15th.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Update from D.C.

Thursday afternoon we landed in D.C. and began our adventure. We caught a bus from the airport to our hotel and then bought a metro pass, which we then took to Union Station. From Union Station, we caught the hotel bus to the hotel to check in. Once we got settled in we ventured back out and headed to the zoo. I think this was the first zoo I've ever been to that I didn't have to pay to get in. Several of the exhibits were closed and at a few, the animals were inside, but we did have a good time and got to see some neat animals.

The metro has been an experience, but it has been pretty easy to figure out. When we got off one, the escalator to street level was llllllooooonnnnggggg. So long in fact that we got our cameras out to get a picture of it. And that's when it happened. My camera went bezerk on me and would not work. Ugghhh.

After the zoo we went to a little corner grocery store to get some water and a few snacks for the room. Then we ate some dinner and headed back to the room. We tried to look online to see how to fix my camera, but with not much luck. After watching our Thursday night shows, we went to bed.

Friday morning when I woke up I called the customer service for my camera. I learned it was a lense issue and there is probably sand in the lens from our Cozumel trip this summer. Unfortunatley, to fix it I will have to send the camera in and pay at least $75. I have to have a camera for Sunday, so our days plans included a stop at Best Buy. But first, a stop at the expo.

The expo was a good expo with lots of cool merchandise. Too much cool merchandise in fact. I had to get some. After a couple of hours at the expo we headed to Best Buy where we found a good sales rep and I got my new camera. Then we headed back to Union Square and decided to walk to the Capital and around the monuments close by. Then we headed back to Union Square, did a little souvenier shopping, ate dinner, and headed back to the hotel.

We'll see what tomorrow holds....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Getting Ready To Head To D.C.

Well, the time is almost here to head off to Washington, D.C. for the Marine Corps Marathon. I leave Thursday morning with my friend Brandi.

Back in April when we signed up for this race, my plan was for this to probably be my only marathon of the year. Brandi and I agreed we would do the race together and get some good pictures along the course as we pass some of the monuments D.C. has to offer. But in July, Brandi had a back procedure that left her unable to train for a while and unable to train properly all season. I was training with the team and my times were getting faster. Knowing that Marine Corp will be slow, I signed up for the San Antonio marathon as well.

So, as Brandi and I head out, our plan is to do some of the race together and to have her cut the course at times to catch back up with me. She will not wear her chip, nor will she take a medal at the end, but she will at least get to do some of the course with me. I'm looking at it as a training run and then will come back and prepare for San Antonio.