The Best Race of the Year! Marine Corps Marathon: Race Recap – Running in the Rain!

I never had the opportunity to write a detailed blog post about my experience at the 2019 Marine Corps Marathon. It was definitely my favorite race of the year. And now that today is 365/365 of 2019, I thought it was the last and perfect time to tell you my story. 

As you start setting 2020 running goals, and finalizing registration forms on future races, I hope you feel inspired and motivatedI mean, it was a decade ago, that I myself, found inspiration after reading an article on a flight to Massachusetts. It was about a man who set a New Years resolution to run his first marathon in Hawaii. Then I ran my very first 26.2 and got hooked, (this year I ran my 6th full.) So here you go, sit back and relax because this one is a good one.

Wow! Wow! Wow! – What a race!

Never have I ever, run a marathon in that kind of rain!

The week leading up to the Marine Corps Marathon, there was lots of chatter about the rain that was coming. It went from… “It’s not going to be a wash out. There is only a 50% chance of rain… to 80%, to 100% chance of rain. As more rain took over the forecast the temperatures also went up. The prediction: rainy, but warm.

It was all true. I woke up to rain drops making noise on the medal awning that covers my front porch.

“Oh, there it is – it truly is raining.” I thought.

It was 5:30 am, pitch black because the sun had yet to come up. I tip toed to the bathroom, where all my racing running gear was laid out, ready to go. I took a quick shower to wake up and warm up my muscles. I got dressed. After much debate the night before, I finally decided on my Oiselle team Volée crop and pocket joggers – hoping they would hold up in the rain comfortably without chaffing, or being to hot or to cold. 

Out the door I went, grabbing an umbrella and my breakfast – water bottle, applesauce pouch, and half of a bagel with peanut butter – it always does the trick.

Because my two daughters and husband were sleeping soundly, I drove to my mom’s house, who lives near the pentagon and I had her drop me off as close to the start as she could. Just like years in the past, I followed all of the other runners to the start, looking for familiar faces. But this year, it was hard to recognize anyone, because everyone was hiding from the rain under ponchos and umbrellas, desperately trying to stay dry. Even as I huddled under my umbrella, I could feel my socks and shoes starting to become soaked with rain.

“Well it is, what it is…” I told myself, “No matter what happens, I know one thing…. today we are going to get wet. Today we are going to be running in the rain.”

It was the mental talk I needed. I wasn’t going to let a little rain get to me. I’ve run in rain before and it can be refreshing and fun. I thought back to the 90 degree summer days when I was chugging along on the MVT during my long run, praying for any little bit of rain to cool me off.

Once at the start, I headed to the UPS bag check to meet my dad who also was running the marathon. When he arrived, I checked my bag and umbrella, and put on the plastic poncho, he gave me to stay as dry as I could.

THE START was rainy. We were all squished in, wearing ponchos trying to stay warm and dry, waiting patiently in the back of the 4:30 corral. But because of the rain it wasn’t as exciting as years in the past. There was no military jets flying above us, and no navy seals parachuting on to the course. No beach balls being tossed around. It was even hard to get photos, because my phone was tucked away in a zip lock bag.

However, the gun went off and the race began. And around 8:05 we were off heading down 110, through Rosslyn, and up Lee Highway.

My husband and daughters, along with my mom and friend, Elissa, were waiting for us at mile 2/3 on the right hand side. We saw them immediately, and after hugs and high fives, we were off again.

At this point, my dad and I decided that I should go on ahead. I was feeling pretty good and wanted to see what I could do. And because he had surgery in the middle of this marathon build up, he had to take a 3 week break from running. So he had no time goal in mind and was planning on “just finishing.”

I picked up the pace, and “politely” began to weave around other runners… “I got to find the 4:30 pacer,” I told myself.

Running up Rock Creek Park was beautiful, but the rain started pouring on us. Heavy rain drops made it hard to even see. At this point, I spotted the 4:30 pacer in the distance, but didn’t think I could catch him.

In the mean time, I realized that my watch was paused. Because I have a 5 year old Garmin – it is a touch screen. I must have wiped away rain to see the face and accidentally paused it. I wasn’t sure how long it was paused for, but once I started it up again my GPS was off. As I came to a mile marker, I realized it was catching up, and only 10-20 seconds off. Regardless, I wasn’t sure my exact pace and timing, and decided not to worry, and from then on I ran by feel.

On the Key Bridge, I ended up spotting two other Oiselle Birds, Meghan and Jen, from my running group Oiselle Volée. Which I chatted with them for a bit, but went on ahead.

Running over bridges is one of my favorite things, and the Key Bridge never disappoints. However, this time around, I forgot to take in the view, because I was more concerned about catching that 4:30 pacer.

Down Wisconsin to the waterfront, under the bridge, heading towards the Kennedy Center. Passing the Kennedy Center to the Memorial Bridge Stairs.

At mile 10, my pace was feeling good and consistent, and then I spotted Oiselle Birds, Courtney and Becca, cheering on the sidelines – it was awesome to see them.

Spectator support is what Marine Corps Marathon is known for, and is one of the aspects of the race that makes the experience so special. The fact that there might be a smaller “spectator” turn out, because of the rain had me worried. However, as I was running I only noticed it was a little less than years before. Because it was a warm rain, people still showed up to cheer, and I was impressed and thankful for it. Spectators are awesome – it makes a difference hearing their cheers.

Onward… I went running through the Blue Mile. The blue mile is a mile where we remember fallen soldiers. Their photos line the mile on both sides. It’s always an emotional mile. The rain really poured, almost as if the sky was crying, American flags blew in the breeze.

At this point I was half way through, leaving Hains Point and heading to the National Mall. The rain was still coming down, and my iPhone headphones completely stopped working. No music, at all! But the crowd was supportive enough, so I didn’t let it agitate me.

On the National Mall, I saw familiar faces cheering at mile 16. And then I noticed the 4:20 pacer. I asked how accurate he was, turns out he was on point. I couldn’t believe, I caught up and was splashing through puddles with the 4:20 pace group at the Marine Corps Marathon. – I might not break 4 hours, but the possibility of setting a new PR wasn’t far out of reach.

At mile 17, I was still rocking it with a smile. This marathon training cycle, I trained using the Hanson’s marathon method which has a 16 mile long run instead of the typical 20 miler. It has a focus on quality volume and balance. I customized the plan to fit my needs and did one 20 miler, however most of my long runs were 16 milers. I’ll write a detailed post about this training method and the benefits later. However, with that being said, when I hit mile 17, I knew I only had 9 miles left – entering single digits, and only had 3 more miles, until I BEAT THE BRIDGE – hitting mile 20, leaving Washington, DC, heading up and down the 14th street bridge to “Crystal City” Arlington, VA.

At mile 19, I pulled off to the side to text my husband, to let him know I was running towards the bridge. I was going to be in Crystal City in no time. The rain had stopped, so I ditched my plastic bag that was covering my phone, so I could continue communicating with my husband if needed.

At mile 20, BEAT the Bridge. It was slightly up hill, then on the flat service of the bridge I ran onward. The sun really started to shine bright, and it was getting hot. The bridge is always a hard spot because there are very few spectators, and a lot of runners “hit the wall” and start to walk. There was a self serve water station, but I didn’t need water, I could wait until Crystal City. Down hill I ran as I approached Virginia. I kept my eyes open for my Oiselle Volée running group who had a cowbell corner set up at mile 22.

Off the bridge a ran, and not long into Crystal City I spotted them, at mile 22, my Oiselle Volée team. They are the loudest most supportive running group of them all. Their cheers and high-fives definitely lifted me up.

Next up, looking for my husband and daughters. They were at mile 23. I pulled off to the side to chat with them. They gave me well wishes as I headed to the finish, and told me they were going to hang back to see if they could spot my dad, aka Grandpa Poppy.

Leaving Crystal City and looping near the Pentagon, at mile 24/25, I was then on 110… I could see the finish line in the far distance. At this point my pace was slowing a little, but my mental game was still strong. “Just get to the next street sign.” I whispered my mantra, “I got this! I was born to run.”

I saw the Memorial Bridge street sign and knew it wasn’t much further before I would be making a left up the hill to the finish.

Mile 26/26.2… I was there under a balloon filled arch with a sign that said HILL, heading up to the finish. It happened so fast, that the next thing I realized a Marine was draping a finishers medal around my sweaty neck. We shook hands, I thanked him for his service, and we snapped a photo…. It’s tradition!

As I wondered around the finishers village, I had received a text message from my husband saying he didn’t see my dad and that he was getting the car to meet me. I started tracking my dad and saw that his estimated finishing time was in 20 minutes! But it was too crowded to head back to the finish line.

The finisher village… I proudly walked around the finisher village with my medal shining. I went to the beer tent, and drank a cold one. I enjoyed the live music playing in Rosslyn. I headed to the UPS trucks to grab my checked bag. I chatted it up with some friendly runners from Boston who told me that the Boston Marathon has a lot of egos (first negative comment I’ve ever heard about Boston) and that there is nothing like running the Marine Corps Marathon.

Finishing Time … So how did I do?! I know you want to know. I didn’t break 4 hours, but I am very happy to say I finished in 4:18:06, which I actually didn’t know when I crossed the finish line. It wasn’t until my sister told me my official time (because she was tracking me) that I had set a new PR on this course. Wow! That was such a hard race, and I ran totally by feel, no accurate watch to show me time and pace along the way.

I eventually want to break 4 hours, but for several reasons, Marine Corps Marathon is a tough course to run fast on.

Overall, I am happy for a new PR and the experience and privilege to Run with the Marines! Plus look at this medal!

In 2019, I ran my 6th full marathon. I trained using a different training plan, the Hanson’s Marathon Method, while trusting in myself to customize the plan based on my own needs. I also (with my girls in the stroller), reached my goal of running a total of 1000 miles for the year. And I did that, while balancing work and motherhood (my babies always come first.) Maybe 2020 will be my year to break 4 in the marathon!? We shall see, one thing I know for sure, I’ll be running a lot, and mothering a lot, and having a whole lot of fun while doing it!

Happy New Year!

Boise Running ~ Marathon Training

~ BOISE RUNNING ~ Marathon Training Yesterday, I went out for my long run with no real goals, I’m in an area that I’m not familiar with on a family vacation. Mom guilt is real, and I didn’t want to be out there running for over 3 hours leaving the family. I can always squeeze one last long run in once I’m home. So game plan has changed slightly, and I confidently switched next week and this week’s long runs. So I will be running a 16-20 mile long run when I get home, then start properly tapering.

This running community of ours is pretty amazing! One of my favorite things about it is connecting with other runners! The running group I run for is the Oiselle Volee is nation wide. And because of how awesome social media is these days it’s so easy to be able to connect and stay in touch with others all over the world. Because I’m more active on social media now than before, I was able to get referrals of where to run in Boise and look up information, maps, etc through google and Instagram.

I ended up reaching out to Oiselle’s Idaho Volee seeing if there were any meet ups. And yesterday, I got the opportunity to meet up with another Oiselle Bird, Nicole from the Idaho Volee. She ran the first 50 minutes with me for my long run! It was awesome because she pushed me to run a little faster – which I know I can. I ended up easing into a rhythm and keeping my pace up – running a speedy 12 mile long run along the Boise River Green Belt.

It felt so good and easy, which is what

it should feel like at this point in my training. The Marine Corps Marathon is 3 weeks out.

Running in Boise has been an amazing experience. (For those who love numbers) I ran 40 miles this week in Boise. Started the week with a 10.5 stroller run + 2 mile cool down walk, ended the week yesterday with a speedy 12 mile long run, and ran plenty of miles in between mostly stroller miles. I mainly stuck to running the gorgeous Boise River Green Belt, but I did do one East Boise neighborhood run, with views of the Foot Hills and Canal!

Next time I come out, I definitely want to explore running the foot hills, or heading out further on the Green Belt, honestly any direction you turn the views are spectacular! Thanks for being so gorgeous and fun Boise! Now off another adventure – up next Idaho Falls, then Yellowstone, and ending the month with the Marine Corps Marathon.

TIPS to get your Toddler to sit in the RUNNING STROLLER with out an IPAD or device.

ZOE joined us today for our stroller run, and it was the best – just like old times!

Zoe was my first little running buddy. I ran with her starting when she was six months old. I trained for the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon with her sitting in the stroller.

However, lately, when I run with the double BOB, it’s just Ava in there. Why? Well for one, instead of swapping out for my single, the double is way more convenient. And two, the last time I ran with both girls, I ended in a major time crunch which left me stressed and caused Zoe to have a total melt down. It was so bad, that I told myself, “THAT IS IT!!!” Zoe has out grown stroller running, and our running journey has come to an end. I remember whispering under my breath, “I’ll just take Ava with me, for now on.”

Stroller running is easy and fun when you have one child under 18 months old. But when you have two children along for the ride, and one is over the age of two, it is HARD and extremely TIME consuming. The simple days of lacing up my shoes and running out my front door is long gone. I now have to bring all the stuff and gear, and enough time to avoid a tantrum.

Today, however, we had no obligations and all the time in the world. The sun was shining and although a little cold, there was no snow, ice, rain … it was actually perfect weather for a nice winter run.

When Zoe woke up she asked me, “Mommy, What are we going to do today?” I told her, “We are going to hit up the running trail. It’s too gorgeous of a winter day, to not go. I don’t want you to miss out.” I told her, that it’s been a long time since we ran together, and that I miss running with her. I told her that I love running with her and that she makes me so happy when she comes along.

Then we started our day. I filled her belly with a bagel. We went to Barnes & Noble on her request to play with the toys and books. After I gave her, her turn, I told her it was time for my turn, and off to the running trail we went.

I let her bring crayons and paper so she would keep busy. I bundled Ava up, and wrapped Zoe in a blanket and placed them both in the running stroller.

I then placed the weather shield over the stroller to shield the cold and the wind. I told Zoe it was her little fort. She called it her tent and was super excited to try it for the first time.

The combination of having a full belly and being warm and cozy under the weather shield, wrapped in a blanket made her happy and comfortable. Plus having crayons kept her busy.

Yay! It worked. Zoe was happy in the stroller. Ava fell asleep. And, I had a lovely successful run, with my two girls. It was definitely hard work pushing my three year old and my ten month old, but totally worth it.

I personally will never give my child an iPad while running. (If you do, you do you!) But for me, No, I won’t do it! In my eyes, there is just something so wrong about being glued to an iPad while playing outside.

Plus, there are a couple of lessons I’m trying to teach my girls by running.

First things first, PASSION. I’m trying to show my daughters what it means to live a healthy active lifestyle. I’m teaching them what it means to be passionate about something, in hopes that they will follow their passions one day. When I train for races, I’m teaching them about goal setting, hard work, and commitment. When I told a non mother runner, this, she chuckled – but guess what, it’s never to early or young to teach these things.

Second thing, PATIENCE. I’m teaching patience, sometimes in life we need to wait. The longest stroller run I have done is 8 miles, however, normally I’m taking the babes with me on short 3-5 mile runs, saving my long runs for my “me time” on the weekends.

30-50 minutes is not that long at all. Any child can sit patiently for 30-50 minutes, plus I normally take a sip of water half way, if the babes are not napping by then, I check on them, and tell them the plan. “Mommy’s drinking water, and turning around now to head back to the car/home.” I offer them a drink and snack before turning back.

Third lesson is taking turns. Lately, instead of heading out for a run first thing in the morning, I’ve been spending the morning focused on what my babes want to do – Playing at Barnes and Noble, going to Story Time at the Library, etc. Then I tell them, “Okay, you had your turn, now it’s mommy’s turn.” I also tell them if we hurry and get our running done, we can go to the playground after if we have time. No problem at all with bribing them with the playground.

With all that being said, I have had a lot of people ask me tips to share of how I get Zoe my three year old to sit patiently in the stroller while I run.

We definitely went through a phase around two years old, where she did not want to sit in the stroller. She wanted to do the running part. The minute we arrived to the trail, she would tell me, “I’m going to walk, mommy! Okay?” When I would try to put her in the stroller she would fight it, and pout. Sometimes, she didn’t want to get buckled in and she would try to stand up in the stroller. It finally came to the days where I was running with her less and less, because it became so time consuming and it was an exhausting and a challenge just to get her to sit down and stay seated for 30 minutes. That was two, and that was a phase. Again I never handed her an iPad, I actually just stop taking her. I would arrange my runs later in the day when my husband was home.

Now that she is three years old things are much different. She really gets the concept of taking turns. I can reason with her much easier. So let’s get to it…

These are the TIPS that have worked best for my babes and I.

One PREPARE: Zoe is three years old. No matter the age, days always go much smoother if we follow a regular routine. At age three, she feels comfortable and confident when she knows what we are doing for the day, our schedule, our plan. I spend the hours leading up to the time we run, preparing her, letting her know that we are going to the running trail, and running a couple of miles. I tell her what I expect from her. If we are going early morning, I let her know the night before, and go over the plan as part of her bedtime routine.

Two – Engagement: If I find that Zoe is getting bored while we are out on the run, I start engaging with her, maybe even play a game of Eye Spy, pointing out different things on the trail. I’m hoping once Ava gets a couple months older the two sisters will engage with each other.

Three – Play Games: As I said above, one of our favorite things to do is play Eye Spy. We have seen plenty of baby ducks, turtles, spider webs, interesting flowers, birds, and even a snake, while playing Eye Spy. Another fun game is Simon Says.

Four – Taking Turns: At three years old, especially because Zoe goes to preschool, she understands that it’s mommy’s turn to do something. Or I will tell her that her sister, Ava, is just a baby and loves stroller rides... “It’s Ava’s turn, now!”

Five – Bribery: Sometimes I need to use good old fashion bribery. I tell Zoe that after our run, I’ll give her a special treat. Normally it’s a trip to the playground, or we will go feed the ducks, or I’ll give her a small piece of chocolate.

Six – Snacks: I always make sure Zoe has a snack to munch on, or just ate so her belly is full. During the summer to keep her cool, I give her a popsicle. It becomes a huge sticky mess, but she loves it. I just wipe her and the stroller down after.

Seven – Activity: I let her bring an activity, such as a small note book with stickers or crayons. Play dough to sculpt or during the summer, bubbles to blow. Sometimes bubbles spill and get messy, but it doesn’t bother me, I just wipe her down after. Again an activity will keep her busy.

Eight – Helper: Some days I’ll ask Zoe to be my helper. I’ll let her carry and keep track of my water bottle.

Nine – Seasons: In the DC area we have four distinct seasons. I run through all of them. This winter, I started using the weather shield on the stroller, Zoe loves it and calls it her tent. In the spring, the weather will be nice, and I’ll point out beautiful flowers on the trail. Zoe normally loves going on runs with me on beautiful days. In the hot summer, I normally take off her shoes and put cold water where her feet rest on the stroller. It creates a pool for her feet where she can splash. In the fall, I normally point out the different colors the trees have turned and I let her pick out a cool, colorful leaf.

Ten – Nap Time: Not all three years olds are still napping, but if we had a busy morning of playing, or I just picked up Zoe from preschool, sometimes she will get tired and fall asleep in the stroller. Most of time on our stroller runs, Ava is snoozing. So some days, it’s all about choosing the right time to run.

Eleven – Independence + Inclusion: I let Zoe climb into get stroller herself, and buckle herself in. Honestly, she is a little big now, so some days I let her sit without being buckled. I also let her choose the direction we run in. “Which way should we go?” “Should I turn around or keep going!?

Twelve – Variety: If possible we change our running route. This keeps things interesting.

Thirteen – Communication + Listening: Most of the time, when Zoe has a meltdown it’s because of a miscommunication or I wasn’t listening. One time, we had a lovely run on the trail, I let her out of the stroller to pick some fall leaves, then she climbed back in her stroller and we headed back to the car. Once we were back at the car, she had a meltdown, and didn’t want to go home, didn’t want to leave the trail, didn’t want to get buckled in her car seat. Turns out after all the kicking and screaming, all she wanted to do was run herself. She told me she didn’t get a turn to run, and that all she wants was to run with me. A tantrum could have been avoided if I had understood that she expected to do some of her own running after I was finished with mine.

Fourteen – Safety: When Zoe requests to get out of the stroller, in the middle of a run, in most cases I have to say no. When she asks why, I explain to her the running trail is to dangerous because there are cyclists or bike commuters. Or it could be getting dark and I need to get us back to the car before the sun sets. If we aren’t on the trail and we are doing city or neighborhood running, I talk about the dangers of busy roads and cars. The stroller keeps you safe.

Fifteen – Thankful: I always tell Zoe how much I love running with her. I always thank her after for coming along.

*A tip that I have yet to try is time. I have thought about giving Zoe a watch or timer so she can be a part of keeping track of how much time we run. Counting the numbers go down, or waiting for the timer to go off is another way she could be engaged, and included. I love numbers and watching my pace or time on my watch, so why wouldn’t she?!

So those are the things I have tried, and found successful!

Also remember I have been running with Zoe since she was six month old, so she is pretty use to the idea of stroller running. I have been running with Ava since she was 8 weeks old and she absolutely loves it. I find the sooner you start running with them and make it part of your morning routine the more successful you will be.

Good luck and always remember if you want to stroller run with your toddler, make sure you have plenty of time, just in case things don’t go as planned.

Also if you are having a difficult time convincing a toddler to sit patiently or come along with you, some mother runners just don’t give their child a choice. It’s time to run, and that’s that! I understand that this is the only option for single mamas, parents that run together and don’t have child care, or just a parenting style. Personally, my goal is to never make the stroller or running a negative experience so that doesn’t work for us.

With that being said, don’t give up! If you are having a difficult time convincing a toddler to sit in the stroller and go running with you, it may just be a phase. If possible give running together a break and then randomly try it again. I find that around age two, kids want to do all the running and walking by themselves, but around age three they cry and pout that they don’t want to walk and are excited to climb in their stroller and take a seat. So don’t give up. Kids go through phases. Try again. One day they may hate it or just don’t feel like going along, but another day they might love it!

Good luck! Hope this helps! Happy Running!

Marine Corps Marathon 2018 : Race Recap

“So he educated me on the long run…

The Marathon is an energy game… a game he had my attention. Going out to hard and surging wastes energy. You want to be smooth and economical. In the long run we are training the body’s energy system, to more readily burn fats over carbohydrates. You see this kind of efficiency in animals that migrate long distances, whales and birds notably- who glide with minimal movement slowly releasing their energy.”

~ Deena Kastor

My white board which hangs from my fridge reminds me of my mantras, as I head out the door … I whisper to myself… Fight + Keep Moving Forward, celebrate my pace every five miles, smile + run happy.

Here I am again, walking over to the Pentagon, under the dark early morning sky, waiting for the sun to make an appearance. Ready to toe the line at the Marine Corps Marathon, for the 5th time.

This time is a little different than the last. Last time, I had a solid training cycle, starting when Zoe was 10 months old ending when she was 14 months. I was able to fit in seven weeks of strength training after my c-section to rebuild my core, before attempting to run. Then I had seven months to build a solid base. I had three previous races under my belt, two ten milers, and a half marathon – in which I broke 2 hours. I set a new PR in the marathon.

This time, I only raced one race previously, the Navy Half Marathon, which I used as a time trial. Making it to the finish line in 2:10, I knew that realistically I could finish the marathon around 4:20:00.

This time around, Zoe – my very smart and energetic three year old, and Ava my “cuddle bug,” 7 month old baby, keeps me busy. Plus, I only had 5 weeks to base build after my c-section recovery. No time to strength train or work on speed. And now on race day, I am only 7 months postpartum, still breastfeeding, a mother of two.

There has been plenty of busy days, and sleepless nights. But I made it! I managed to fit in another marathon training cycle. Although, not as consistent as what I normally accomplish, the work still got done.

On race day, I quietly walk over to the start. I follow all the other runners. I over hear them nervously chatting among themselves, as I reflect on my training, and run through my game plan for the race. I continue to whisper to myself, “When things get tough I will … Fight, keep moving forward, celebrate my pace every 5 miles, smile, run happy.”

This is NOT a goal race for me, so no pressure to PR. I used this marathon training cycle, to regain my fitness after pregnancy, plus I was desperately craving the long run.

I recently listened to the interview of Paula Radcliffe, on the I’ll Have Another Podcast. She is the Marathon World Record holder, running it in 2:15:25. In the interview, she talks about the importance of building season upon season. One marathon training cycle and marathon is part of a series of steps, to your next goal race. So often, we focus to hard on one race, never thinking about the future ones or the big picture.

There is a season for everything. And this season is not about setting a new marathon PR, but rather regaining my fitness after pregnancy, and learning how to balance my life while including my two passions – running + motherhood.

This season Marine Corps Marathon, marathon number 5, is one of the series of steps to build upon. During this Marine Corps Marathon, I’m running for the experience. Instead of racing right passed everything, it’s time to take in the whole race – high five every Marine’s hand and thank them, gain energy from the spectators, laugh at every funny sign or T-shirt. Next marathon I’ll run for speed.

This whole marathon training cycle, I consistently, just showed up, to see what I could do. Now, I’m at the start of the Marine Corps Marathon, doing the same thing showing up to see what I can do. Let’s go!

THE START

After standing in the porta potty line waiting behind forty so other runners, I begin to run to check my bag. The porta potty line was moving so slowly I wonder if I’m going to miss the race. Finally at bag check, I meet my dad and we head to the corral. It’s pretty cool to run this marathon with my dad! I’m excited to cross the finish line with him.

My dad and I get down to the start, but it’s already crowded, we zig zag between people, but the best we can do is squeeze in at the 4:45 corral. Normally, I would have stood with the 4:15 corral or even the 4 hour, but it’s so crowded, so this will have to do.

Just as in years in the past, standing around in the corral waiting for the gun to go off, brought on all the exciting energy. I really love a big race. Nothing feels better than running a marathon on a beautiful day, with 35,000 other runners. It feels amazing.

Miles 1-5

Finally I hear the gun go off and the race begin.

Our first mile is slow, but I’m glad, because I want to give my husband a little more time to get my babies to mile 2, where they will be waiting and cheering. Down 110, through Rosslyn, up the Lee Highway hill. I spot them smiling!

A quick photo with Daddy and Ava, and I’m off again! (Ava’s first time cheering mommy on. Zoe didn’t want a picture.) Next time I will see them is in Crystal City at mile 22.

Mile 3-4 , we are looping around Spout Run, down and over the Key Bridge – leaving Virginia and entering DC. The Key Bridge is so beautiful to run over. Mile 5, the crowd support in George Town is over the top. So far we are running a pretty steady pace, and there is enough space to zigzag around some people, but still I pay attention to the fun. For example this runner dressed up in a Red Skins outfit dragging a Cowboy’s jersey.

MILE 6-10

Up Rock Creek and then down, to Hains Point. When mile 10 approaches I yell to my Dad, “double digit time!” Still feeling really good.

MILE 11-15

At mile 12, Blue Mile makes an appearance. The mile is lined with American flags, and photos of military men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our country and freedom. It’s quiet, and emotional.

MILE 16-20

Running along the National Mall, Washington, DC is always a treat. The view of the monuments take my breath away. It reminds me of how lucky I am to live in the DC area.

At mile 16, as I’m running, I tell my dad, “All we have is four more miles until we make it to the bridge, and leave DC entering into Virginia.” Once I run passed mile 17, I tell myself, “Back to single digits. Only 9 more miles to go.”

Soon I see the bridge – the 14th Street Bridge, mile 20. Two marines stand there yelling, “Time to Beat the Bridge.”

On the bridge, I start to hit the wall and start to walk. My legs and mind need it. It’s sunny and windy, but I know I have to get down to Crystal City looking good, so I start running again… My two running groups are cheering in Crystal City, and my husband, GiGi, and babies will be there too – can’t wait to see them.

Finally, off the bridge, nothing feels better approaching Crystal City. I’m out of DC, and back in Virginia. I’m passing mile 21, and I think to myself… “Only five more to go, my five mile easy run.”

Mile 21 – 22 is impossible to miss, my Oiselle team is there waiting to cheer … at their famous cowbell corner. I hear them screaming my name – “MEGHAN!!!” They are the brightest, loudest, and most electric, group I know. I high-five every single one of them. Their energy LIFTS ME UP and I truly begin to soar high.

Among the crowd I see a neighbor, so fun to say hello to another familiar face.

I keep going looking desperately for my husband, GiGi, and babies. They are here outside of Good Stuff Eatery. It’s like a mosh pit of people, so I was afraid I might miss them… but then there they are. After some quick hugs and sweaty kisses, I continue on.

As I approach the turn around, on Crystal Drive, I hear my name again… “MEGHAN.” It’s my friend Raiza and MRTT (Mom’s Run This Town) group. After a big hug, and asking if I need anything, she yells, “Go, Go, Go.” And I begin to run faster to the finish.

MILES 23-26.2

I feel a second wind, a burst of energy. It’s amazing how the excitement and positivity from spectators can really up lift you and get you moving. Now my dad and I are leaving Crystal City, and heading to 110.

On 110, I see the finish line in the far distance. It’s time to count street signs. To the Memorial Bridge street sign, I whisper to myself… the finish line is right passed that sign.

Then up the hill, we climb.

And the finish line is so close I can taste it. Finally my feet run over the finish, my dad right by my side. A Marine places a heavy red finishing medal around my neck.

We are Marathoners, #5 done for me and number 30 something for my dad.

On October 28th, 2018, I ran across the finish line proudly, of the Marine Corps Marathon for the 5th time. I showed up to see what I could do, and at 7 months postpartum, I finished 26.2 miles in 4:44:21.

My goals for this race were to fight, keep moving forward, celebrate my pace every five miles, smile, and run happy… so that’s what I did.

Goal accomplished!

Mission accomplished!

FUTURE GOALS

Although, I’m still smiling and running happy, I’m already thinking about my next marathon, my next season. And next time there’s going to be less smiling and more speedy miles accompanied with a whole lot of GRIT! Stay tuned!

CONGRATULATIONS

A special Congratulations to everyone who ran/raced the Marine Corps Marathon this year. And also congrats to those who ran/raced a fall marathon!