Marine Corps Marathon recap

The 2014 Marine Corps Marathon is in the books and it is only the 2nd marathon I’ve ever run. With that being said, it was SUPPOSED to be an easy training run, getting me ready for Ironman Arizona in November. Of course, any of you that know me know that I always push just a bit beyond my plan. Long story short, I finished in 4:29:54 and set a PR by 15 minutes, with a lot of walking at the end.

I got mixed up in the whole big mess prior to signing up for IMAZ so I thought this would be a nice bookend to the season. A friend of mine from Salisbury, Matt Cook, convinced me to run the Marine Corps 17.75k back in April in Quantico, VA and, with that, you were granted guaranteed entry to the MCM. My focus has not been on this as a race, but just as a distance run, with no true time goal in mind. It’s amazing what we consider a “training run” after training for our crazy sport.

I was fortunate enough to have a friend that lives in DC so I just decided to go up and stay with him on Saturday. That is, of course, after a brisk 30 mile bike ride with the Cambridge Multisport crowd and some new friends. Michael, Dean and JoAnna from CMS would help me in destroying my plans for a nice, leisurely ride, to keep my legs fresh (Don’t be confused. I LOVED every minute of it.). After the ride it was a nice 90 minute drive to the armory for packet pickup. WOW! A half mile long line around the building to get in (thanks to security bag check). Once inside everything went quickly and it was time to go meet my friend and grab a bite (and a brew). Dinner of carbs and in bed by 9:30 since I had to get a 5am metro ride to get there on time. Of course, even though it was just for training, I was awake every 20 minutes to make sure I didn’t sleep.

Long lines at the metro and long lines at security to get in but those are the issues with running big events in big cities, I guess. I was able to meet up with my buddy Matt at the bag drop off and we decided to just hang together. We put ourselves in the corral just in front of the 4 hour marathon mark to try to separate ourselves but it appears some were seeding themselves even further forward than that. This was apparent because after the start (WITH A HOWITZER!!!!) we saw some people walking within the first ½ mile.

Step for step, Matt and I ran side by side, fighting our way through the major crowd in front of us. It’s amazing how many people were out there and the support we got. I was testing my IMAZ nutrition plan out and it consisted of two packs of Clif Bloks (6 per pack so 12 total) in which I would eat one blok every 2 miles with a little water from my Filitec belt. It also consisted of grabbing at least two cups of Gatorade Endurance (thankfully the drink we will be going to in Ironman next year) and two cups of water, whether I felt I needed them or not. The plan went great and I never felt as though I needed any more fuel.

I could tell Matt was starting to hurt some when he stopped talking to me. At mile 18 he asked if that was where I planned to stop. To his dismay, I told him I was going to push to 20, since EVERYONE should have a 20 miler under their belt before a marathon (just my opinion, NOT true). At mile 20 my boy was in pain. He laughed and asked if I was planning on stopping. I told him I wanted to see this bridge everyone kept talking about “beating”. Of course it was just ahead so we kept on pushing. I’m happy to say that I kicked the snot out of that bridge, with no walking or cramps or anything and, true to my word, I started walking with Matt. We would walk for a while, then jog for a couple of minutes, then walk, and repeat. The only time I really pushed that we run was when the energy of the crowd on the side of us was just so great that we NEEDED to run! As we got closer and closer to the end, the walk/jog intervals got closer and closer. Matt’s hips were really bugging him and we had pumped him with as much salt/electrolyte/Alleve mixture that his body. We stuck together through it all but I do have to confess. When I saw that last “hill” to get to the finish line, I BOUNDED up that sucker. I actually like running hills and I’m publicly apologizing to Matt for leaving him there, at one of the tougher parts. Sorry buddy.

I didn’t feel like I pushed this hard at all. Heart rate stayed exactly where I wanted for my Ironman course. We’ll see how much damage I did later this week but this morning (Monday) I woke up with no pain. I put on a pair of 2XU recovery socks to go to work in. I DID check my heart rate first thing this morning and it’s about 10 beats higher, meaning that today is a recovery day. As soon as it’s back to normal, it’s back to training.

All in all a good event. Very scenic except for about mile 20 to 24, which is on an interstate. Aid stations were VERY long, which gave plenty of opportunity to get Gatorade and Water. There was one area that was nothing but Clif gels and one that was nothing but Sport Beans. I don’t even want to talk about the station in the last 5k that was Dunkin’ Donuts holes (ONLY!!!). Bleh. (Special thanks to the bandit aid station that was pouring small cups of beer. Very tasty!)

I would certainly recommend this to anyone who has never been to DC or done a BIG marathon. That being said, though, I’d very much like to NOT run a marathon unless attached to an Ironman again. That being said, I’m sure I’ll do one next year. See you on the starting line!