The Race Recap: Marine Corps Marathon 2016

“Run for 20 minutes and you‚Äôll feel better. Run another 20 and you might tire. Add on 3 hours and you‚Äôll hurt, but keep going and you‚Äôll see‚ÄĒand hear and smell and taste‚ÄĒthe world with a vividness that will make your former life pale.”

Scott Jurek

In honor, of the Marine Corps Birthday, (that was on Thursday), and Veterans Day Weekend, I thought it would be a perfect time to post my race recap on running the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon. 

(Warning: This is a long detailed post about my experience, mile by mile.) 

On Sunday, October 30th, 2016, I ran my fourth Marine Corps Marathon. Although, it was my fourth MCM- this marathon was my first full marathon I ran, 14 months after having Zoe, and my fourth postpartum race.

When I registered for this race, I kept it a secret. I was really worried if I would be able to fit in the training,  being such a huge time commitment, new mom, and working mom. Would I be able to juggle everything? Turns out I could and did. Running mamas let me tell you… It is totally possible to train for a full marathon after baby! I did it and you can too. I ran all the miles! (Curious about my training read all about it here.)

Marine Corps Marathon 

THE EXPO

The Expo was held at the Gaylord Resort in National Harbor. At first, I was a little annoyed that they moved the Expo to Maryland instead of having it in DC. There is no metro located on National Harbor, so I feared there would be a lot of traffic and no parking. Turns out it was perfect. Not to much traffic, plenty of parking, and beautiful views of the Potomac river. 

We normally see these view from across the river, from the VA side. 

The Expo was held on both Friday and Saturday. I went on Friday afternoon hoping it wouldn’t be to busy. There were no lines getting in and no lines to get bibs. However, there was a line to the check out to get MCM gear, and because I had my 14 month old with me, there was no way I could wait in it. 

I ended up just getting my bib and skipping the MCM gear area. (I’ll purchase some gear later online. 

I wore my Oiselle sweatshirt to the Expo, talk about flystlye. This sweatshirt is so warm, cozy, and stylish.

Again, I brought my daughter, Zoe, with me to the Expo. The majority of my training was done with her by my side, so I wanted her there with me to experience the excitement of the Expo. It feels great to be a BAMR. (Read about being a BAMR at the Navy Half Expo, here.) 

Some runners hate expos and avoid them if they can. I, on the other hand, love the Expo. The Expo always gets me pumped! Plus, who doesn’t want to shop for more running stuff?!

I ended up shopping around, and purchased a running skirt from Mana Threads. I bought a sports bra and tank top from them at the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler Expo, and I was excited to see them again. I’ve never run in a skirt before, and honestly, never thought I would. I actually use to “roll my eyes” at runners who wore skirts. But I’m at the point that I’ve been running for 8-10 years now, and it can be difficult to find something new and different. So I’m going to give the skirt a try. Might as well… I might love it. 

I also checked out HOKA shoes. The guy was very knowledgeable. I’m pretty loyal to Newton, but want another type of shoe in my shoe rotation. So in the future I might give HOKA a try. 

NIGHT BEFORE THE RACE

The HEAT

Every long run I ran this summer was in record breaking heat conditions. Just my luck… the weather man was predicting unusually warm summer like conditions on race day. 

In my running groups, everyone was worried about the heat. We even received an email from the Marine Corps Marathon organizers, saying – to slow down race pace, and to hydrate and dress for hot conditions.  

Every time I run MCM the weather is perfect. I checked back on my blog post from a couple of years ago, when I ran my 3rd MCM and it was 30 degrees cooler that day. 

I don’t do well in the heat, and I also was pretty congested because of a cold. However, I trained in a heat wave of a summer in 80-90 degree record breaking weather, so I wasn’t too worried. I also wasn’t going to put my mind in a negative state. Positive vibes only.

I was just going to run my best and see what I could do. I was confident. I put in all the miles during training, and I knew once I got around the energy of the other runners, my excitement would keep me going strong. 

A lot of runners chose to wear their hydration packs on race day. I thought about it, but I really didn’t want the extra load. So my game plan was to rely on water stations, hoping they wouldn’t run out. 

I also planned on starting at 7:55, when the gun went off. Because the metro wasn’t opening early for us, due to safe tracking, MCM organizers were leaving the start open for a full additional hour. This meant late runners could cross the start line as late as 8:55. But this also meant that these late runners would cross the finish line later in the day in hotter conditions. My game plan, get there early, start my race when the gun goes off, run my race during the gorgeous morning, cooler temperature, and finish my race before the afternoon heat. 

NIGHT before RACE RITUAL

Saturday night, I spent some time trying to decide what running outfit to wear on race day. I decided on my oiselle singlet, and I’m so glad I did!

I stayed comfortable and cool up until mile 24. And wearing the oiselle singlet helped my oiselle teammates see me easier. I really love running for oiselle. I joined the team after having Zoe, and the support has been amazing. 


I did my,”Night before Race Ritual,” which is laying out my race day outfit and taking a picture. Above picture is my, “Flat Meg.” 

I also laid out Zoe’s outfit. My sister had a shirt made for her that said, “My mom runs faster than your mom.” 


I also carb-loaded for two days straight with spaghetti and sauce that I made homemade.

I was as ready as I could be. 

So it was time to just try to get a good night sleep. But before shutting my eyes, I checked social media to support other runners and gain some inspiration. 

This is what I found on the Marine Corps Marathon facebook page. 


I laughed when I read it! Because no one sleeps well before a marathon. 

MORNING OF

My alarm went off at 5:20 am. I tiptoed through my dark house and got dressed and ready. Grabbed my iPod shuffle (which I didn’t use, I just had it as a back up) and Garmin.

By 6:00 am, I was off to my mom’s house. Because the metro wasn’t working- I parked my car at my mom’s house, and she dropped me off in Pentagon City. A ton of other runners flooded Pentagon City, so I just followed the crowd walking over to the start, eating my pb&j. 



THE START

Like always, the Marines greeted us, and welcomed us with excited faces. They checked our bags, getting us through security quickly. 

I was there pretty early, and because I had time, I decided to hit up the porta potty, making conversation with the guy in front of me. It was his first time running MCM, so I let him ask me all of his nervous questions.

Unlike years in the past, I wasn’t shivering. It was close to 60 degrees already at 6:30 am. I was in long pants and my long sleeve zip up MCM shirt from the previous year. It was time to strip down into my race clothes and drop my long sleeves at baggage claim. 

(Side note: I saw a lot of people wearing bath robes. Have you seen that before? I’ve seen people wearing trash bags in the past, but never bath robes. I don’t see the point. But to each their own.

When I was at baggage claim the sun began to rise. 

My dad was also running the marathon. I received a text message from my saying he was on Memorial Bridge running to the start. He asked for me to wait for him so we could get a picture together. 

CORRAL AND START LINE

My dad and I walked down to the start line at 7:30ish. We squeezed our way up to the 4:10 and 4:15 corral – standing with a view of the 4:15 pacer. 

The Marine Corps Marathon is The People’s Marathon – which means they do not assign corrals, instead they allow the runners to choose a corral. Because Marine Corps Marathon has 30,000 runners, the first three miles can be crowded and slow, so I always try to stand in the corral ahead of my ideal finishing time. 

Let’s talk about timing… 

My goal finishing time for this race was 4:15. Maybe I could run it faster, because I ran my last half marathon, a month before, in 1:53, and felt good! But I finished my last full marathon in 4:19, (2 years ago) so I would be happy running that, or a faster PR. 

So standing in the 4:10-4:15 corral seemed to be a good place to start. 

The actual start didn’t seem as exciting as years past. It actually didn’t seem crowded at all. But maybe that’s because of the option of starting later. But in the years past, people are normally packed in, clothes going everywhere. One year a beach ball was going above our heads. Everyone cheering! 

The EXCITEMENT 

The real excitement happened when they flew military planes over our heads. 


And then we were off… 

Mile 1-3

We ran down 110, up through Rosslyn, up Lee Highway. My husband, daughter, and Mom were waiting for me at mile 2-3ish on Lee Highway. It was easy to spot them because my little Zoe was on my husband’s shoulders. It was so fun seeing them, especially Zoe!! She was excited seeing her Grandpa aka Poppy. My dad showed everyone his 1989 MCM race shirt. As I looked at my watch, my dad made observation that we climbed that hill pretty fast. We were on our way to Spout Run.

MILES 3-5 

We ran through Spout Run during miles 3-5. This is one of my favorite parts of the marathon because it is by far the prettiest part of the race. Trees shaded us while we ran up and down slight rolling hills, as we approached the Key Bridge. My Dad and I were still running side by side. 

MILES 5-7

Over the Key Bridge we went, leaving Virginia and entering D.C. I love running over the Key Bridge. And Georgetown is usually a very exciting spot during the race because the spectator support is so huge and energized. There is normally a band playing from Georgetown University, and a group from Lululemon cheering while sipping mimosas. However, this year I didn’t see any of that and to my surprise it seemed like a ghost town. But, we continued on, down Wisconsin we went, and up to Rock Creek park we headed. My dad and I were making great timing! 

MILES 8-10

Usually, Rock Creek Park is up one huge hill and then a crowded turn around, then a down hill. But this year they cut it short and it wasn’t crowded at all. My dad and I both looked at each other with a smile, when we realized we didn’t have to run the hill. 

MILE 11 – The BLUE mile


Mile 11 is called the Blue Mile. This mile is lined with photos of fallen soldiers. It was very emotional. Many people stopped in front of their fallen solider to cry, or get a picture. American flags lined the end of the mile to uplift us. 

MILES 12-14

Haines Point is normally the boring part, but we got through it – still feeling really strong and on pace.  

During one of the water startions, my dad grabbed a GU (energy gel) and I lost him. But my cell phone rang, and it was him, and he was coming up on the left hand side. Off we went to the National Mall. Dad shouted we were over half way through. 

MILES 15-18

At mile 15, I told my dad we only had 2 miles until mile 17. Mile 17 is a significant mile in the marathon, because you only have 9 miles left which means you enter single digits. We were both running on pace, but it was then that my dad told me to go on ahead, if I thought I was going to break 4 hours. I didn’t know if I could do that, but I was going to try. So I picked up the pace on the National Mall and headed to the 14th street bridge. 

It was awesome that my dad and I ran 15 miles together. 

MILES 18-20

I left the National Mall and was heading on to the 14th street bridge. The bridge is normally mile 20, but because of the late start, and the eagerness to open DC streets, we had to leave the city on time. So they made the bridge mile 18 instead of the normal mile 20. 

The goal to the bridge is to, “Beat the Bridge.” Many people hit the wall here and begin to walk. It can feel really hot, or super windy. But I actually always love the bridge. And I never walk. 

Once I was on the bridge, still running, I texted my husband to let him know I was on the bridge heading to Crystal City. He was shocked I was calling so early, ahead of schedule. He was on his way to meet me in Crystal City. 

I also knew my Oiselle teammates had a cheer station at mile 21. So I was keeping a look out. Mean while, I was still on pace and feeling strong. 

MILE 21

There they were! My Oiselle teammates cheered the loudest cheers ever at mile 21! So happy I saw them. I was now super pumped and on my way down Crystal Drive to see my husband, baby, and mom. MILE 21 was the longest distance I ran during training. This mile marker is significant for me because during the week I run a 5 mile easy run, and during the marathon when I hit 21, I tell myself, “Its just my 5 mile easy run.” 

MILE 22

I ran through Crystal City, eyes wide, looking for people I knew. Around mile 22, I saw my husband, mom, and baby, again, waiting to cheer me on. Zoe was so cute having fun watching all the runners, smiling big when she saw me. I got some pictures and I told them I was feeling good and making great timing! 

MILE 23-24

After leaving my family, letting them know I would see them at the finish, I kept on pace.  I started looking for the mile markers.  It wasn’t until mile 24, that I started to feel really hot. 

But at mile 24, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It ended up being one of my runner friend, Raj Running Yogi! It was such a fun surprise seeing him. I hope I was friendly! At mile 24, looping around the pentagon, I was just trying to stay focused and look for my street signs, that always helps me get to the finish. 

MILE 25 – 26.2

I could see the finish line in the distance. Then the street signs appeared. I told myself just get to the Memorial Bridge street sign. Next thing I realize, I’m running passed it and seeing the Key Bridge street sign. Passing the Key Bridge sign, I made a left heading to the Iwo Jima memorial, uphill to the finish. Although, the finish line was moved to the right this year, it felt amazing crossing it! 


THE FINISH

This Marine gave me my finishing medal! 


Took a photo near the Iwo Jima memorial.

I met up with my family. And got to show my daughter Zoe my finishing medal. 


All of our hard training paid off! It felt amazing showing my daughter my medal. 

After the race was over, my husband, daughter and I enjoyed bunch at Lyon Hall.  

THE RESULTS

A NEW PR

Although, it was hot running conditions, and  a “difficult” course, I felt great most of the race. 

I ended up finishing in 4:17:01, which was a little over a 2 minute PR. I am very happy with this time, and over all had a very successful marathon. 

The most fun thing about this race was running the first 15 miles with my dad. I am very impressed with how fit he is! 

I’m also most proud of the fact that I trained for this race with my daughter by my side. Yes, my identity has changed now that I am a mother, but it has not changed my passion for running and living a healthy lifestyle. It is very important to me to show and teach my daughter- that with passion, dedication, and hard work, anything is possible. 

WHAT IS NEXT? 

I will be running a Turkey Trot this thanksgiving with Zoe in the stroller. But as of that, I’m still trying to decide which marathon I want to run next. 

In the mean time, I’m hitting the weight room again consistently. Its time to get stronger again.

THANK YOU

Thank you to everyone who inspired and supported me through this marathon training season, and the marathon. This includes MRTT, Oiselle, and everyone that followed along on IG, FB, Strava, and this blog. 

Also I want to give a special thank you to the Marines, race organizers, volunteers, and race spectator support for another amazing Marine Corps Marathon experience.

Thank you!

It’s so amazing to be a part of something this big!! And the running community is incredible! 


Now let’s set new goals, and run all the miles! 

copyright 2016 sweatdaily 

Race Recap: Navy Air Force Half Marathon – 3rd postpartum race.

The Expo

Friday, 9/16/16: Through the Nats Stadium, I headed to the expo, as my baby napped, while I pushed her in our BOB running stroller. She continued to sleep peacefully as I picked up my bib for my third postpartum race.

It use to amaze me, whenever I saw a mom, with a young baby picking up her bib. “Wow”, I use to think, “I hope to be like that! Fit, healthy, happy, postpartum, racing a full or half marathon while lovingly caring for a tiny human.”

Now, here I am doing exactly that. 

Night Before the Race

Saturday, 9/17/16: As always, I preformed my night before race ritual of laying out my race clothes. Hashtagging Flat mama, flat Meg. (Which means laying out your race clothes without you wearing them, meaning they are a flat version of you.) Side note: I was really excited that I would be wearing my oiselle singlet and sports bra.

The Race

Sunday, 9/18/16: It was still dark outside, but I tiptoed around the house at 5:00am to get dressed and ready. The metro is not opening early for the race because of safe tracking, so I drove to L’s house and we took a cab from there. We arrived to the start as the sun came up.


Most people that I know who are also in the middle of training for the Marine Corps Marathon used this race as a training run. They practiced running marathon pace. At the start, I’m still trying to decide if I want to do the same, or race.


As we lined up to the start, the gun goes off, and the race has officially began. After mile one, I was feeling really good, the weather was perfect, it is then that I decide, I’m going to race. I thought to myself, “I paid for this half marathon, if I needed to practice my marathon pace I could have just run another training run on the trail. Plus there are still many opportunities to practice marathon pace.”

Next thing I realize I’m at mile six, and approaching a water station. Perfect time to refuel with some sports beans. I was still feeling really good and I told myself, “Just keep up this pace.”

At one point, we headed up Rock Creek Park. It’s a bit hilly, but I always like the mix up. While we were heading up, the pro/elite runners were sprinting down. It was really inspiring seeing them, including a female pro/elite runner wearing a oiselle singlet.

All of a sudden I was approaching mile ten. I couldn’t believe I only had 3.1 miles to go.

The last 3.1 miles went well and I sprinted across the finish line in 1:53:54.


This race was not a PR for me, but I was really happy I ran it in under 2 hours.

After all the marathon training in the heat wave of a summer, this race brought my confidence back.

Motivation and Inspiration

These are a few of my favorite things. 

  1. My favorite thing about the race was seeing so many Oiselle Volee team members along the course and cheering on the side lines. It’s so cool to have such awesome support and meet some of my team mates for the first time.
  2. I also loved how the race directors automatically texted your split times through out the race. This kept my pace on point.
  3. Seeing the pro/elite runner through out the race made me pumped.
  4. The race was one of the smaller races in the area, which was a nice change. It never felt over crowded.
  5. Rock creek park hills was a nice switch up from the otherwise flat city course.

In the end…

I got my bling! 

And as of now, to her, it may just be a pile of colorful medals that make noise. But when she is older, I will teach her what they really symbolize …


PASSION, DEDICATION, and the idea that anything is POSSIBLE if you work hard.

So that’s all for now. Next up, Marine Corps Marathon!!

Let’s Run all the MILES!!

copyright 2016 sweat1xdaily

Kara Goucher struggles at the NYC Marathon

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Last Sunday was the New York City Marathon.

Kara Goucher one of my favorite female elite runners ran it. She went to New York, not in it to win, but hoping for a solid 2:28 race.

I remember my run last Sunday. It was windy. So windy my lips got chapped. While I was running, I was thinking… I hope it’s not this windy in NYC. If it is, there aren’t going to be any PRs, marathon times are going to be slow.

I constantly talk about the weather on this blog, as a runner the weather really does make or break us. In Kara Goucher’s case, it broke her.

She suffered…

Hit the wall…

and struggled to finish.

I recently read her blog post, A Bitter Sweet Return, and it almost brought me to tears. As I read her post, I felt like I was running the marathon with her, right by her side. There are¬†so many emotional moments. Ones that include…

Deciding to run the first ten miles with the lead pack.

At mile 9, realizes the others aren’t intimidated and slowed down by the wind. Her game plan back fires. She went out too fast, causing her to burn out.

Slowing down running the next 10 miles solo. 

Goucher spots Edna Kiplagat at mile 18, and uses her as a target. Unfortunately, she barely passes her, and never regains energy. 

Continues running to mile 24, knowing her coach would be there. But being too delirious that she runs right by him, never seeing nor hearing his support.

Finally, Goucher makes it to finish line.
There is a quote that goes something like, “The only run you regret is the one you don’t do…” Goucher says she has no regrets… As a runner, we run races. Some end up good, while others bad.
“I have at times been criticized for showing so much emotion.¬†¬†I wear my heart on my sleeve and have never been good at ‚Äúkeeping it together.‚Ä̬†¬†
Goucher poured her heart out on her blog. And the reason why I found it so important to recap her race and blog post is because of that reason. She is so passionate. And I have always put elite runners in a whole different light. On a different level. Physically they are on a different level, but after reading her blog post I realized elite runners are really not much different then you and I. They have the same mental strategies, and the same mental break downs.
  • The wind effects them.
  • They go out too fast.
  • They don’t want to run alone.
  • They use other runners as a focus target… to run faster in hopes to regain energy.
  • They look for familiar support at mile markers.
  • ¬†They get delirious…
  • ¬†They make it to the finish line.
  • ¬†They never regret running.
  • ¬†They have determination that the next run will be better.
As a runner, I read Kara Goucher’s¬†emotional blog post and totally got it. ¬†I’ve been there, and done that, but of course 2 hours slower.¬†
© 2014 sweat1xdaily

Nike Women Half Marathon DC

The Nike Women Half Marathon is a famous race in San Francisco. It has always been on my list of races to someday run. However, in the fall of 2012, there was a rumor floating around, that the race was coming to the East Coast. And just my luck, to my very own home turf, Washington, DC.

For a while the rumor, stayed a rumor. There was no information or advertising on the race. The only way people found out about the possibility of the race was through word of mouth – one girl runner telling another.

Race organizers kept us in suspense.

REGISTRATION

However, finally the day came when race registration became available. It was interesting because they did not have a website, instead you had to “like” their facebook page, and click on the registration link. Getting into the race depended on a Lottery system based on a random drawing. The registration was very long, asking questions about ethnicity, income, and what shoes you run in. I am guessing this was a marketing tool for Nike to discover who their consumer is, and what brand is used by the majority of female runners. The registration fee also came close to $200.00, which by far is the most expensive race I have run.

Anyway, two weeks went by, and finally I was notified that my registration was accepted, and thankfully L and E got in as well. During the time between registering for this race and finding out if I got in, registration opened for my 2 other favorite spring races, so I registered for those as well. Cherry Blossom 10 miler is also a lottery, and race day was scheduled for the first weekend of April. The Parkway Classic 10 miler, a first come first serve registration, had a race day scheduled in the third weekend of April. And then Nike Women Half Marathon race day scheduled for the last weekend of April. That means the Washington, DC area would have races 3 out of 4 weekends in April. The only reason why they left the second weekend free of races is because that weekend is the weekend the Queen of all Marathons is scheduled, the Boston Marathon (Boston Strong.)

I ended up getting into all three races I registered for, which was perfect because my 10 milers became my training runs for the Nike Women Half Marathon!

TRAINING

At the end of January, I started the Livefit trainer. The first 4 weeks of the Livefit trainer (Phase 1: weeks1-4) it is advised that you do NO cardio of any form. So I took a month off of running (not running was torture for me) but I focussed on lifting weights and building muscled (and loved it.) The next 4 weeks of the trainer (Phase 2: weeks 5-8) I still focussed on building muscle but was able to include my running. Currently, I am on week 9 of the Livefit trainer (Phase 3.) I should be further along, but because of my races I am starting from the beginning of Phase 3 repeating week 9. I am ready to complete this phase as intensely as I can!

I do want to say this though, building muscle has taken my running to the next level. I always thought when it came to training, the more running I did the better I would be. But by doing the Livefit trainer I have proved that, this is not always the case. Training is not about how many miles you can log a week, but rather are the runs you do, high quality. Too much running, can lead to over training, and injury- which gives running a bad rep. More muscle and a stronger body, along with high quality training runs, leads to faster and stronger running, injury free. Running less, does not mean I did not train hard. I did high quality training runs, and intense lifting. My PRs are my proof.

EXPO

The expo for the Nike Women Half Marathon, was available to runners on Friday and Saturday. Because L and I both have friday off from work, we headed to the expo on friday, so we could beat the crowd. The location of the expo was perfect, right along the Georgetown waterfront. This allowed us to park in the neighborhood and do a quick training run along the MVT before walking over to the expo.

Of course we hit up the Nike Georgetown store on the way down to the expo. 3580_10101094792828446_1237519482_nWe had to stock up on our Nike Women Half Marathon apparel. I loved how Nike didn’t have a trace of pink in the store. Yes! We are women, but enough with the pink, we like other colors too. My favorite color combo that Nike had available was blue and orange!

orange

They also had a variety of Nike Frees available. I have always been interested in the Nike Free, for weight lifting, but when it comes to my runs, I am pretty obsessed with my newton shoes. Anyway, they created a Nike free in a light turquoise color with white ribbon as the shoe laces. ¬†The inspiration behind these shoes came about, because the finisher swag for the Nike Women Half Marathon is a Tiffany’s necklace.417839_10101090212467526_1523067281_n I think this is a really fun idea. I also like how they included the phrase, We Run DC on the tongue of the shoe. This phrase was important because the original race is held in San Francisco. There were tons of ladies, from California, Denver, and other places who had already run the Nike Women San Francisco, who were excited to now run the race in DC, and was on the hunt for any race apparel that had this phrase on it.

After we hit up the Nike store, we headed down to the waterfront. On the way down to the expo they had a huge wall with every race participant’s ¬†name on it. What a cool idea! L and I searched for our names and finally we found them.

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we run dc

The photo below is a photo of the expo. Picture found on the NWM facebook.
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They also had nuun available to sample. Instead of gatorade, they would be providing this on race day! I actually prefer this over gatorade, but when it comes to hydrating during my races, I stick to water. Nuun was really delicious post race though.

nuun

After the Expo L and I had an amazing lunch at Farmers Fishers Bakers located along the Georgetown waterfront. This is a “must try place,” So delicious, especially the sushi.

Night Before the Race

Just like every other race, I have my night before race ritual, where I lay out my race clothes, and prepare/organize everything for race day.

Night before race clothesRACE MORNING

I always have a hard time sleeping  the night before a race, not because I am worried about running the race, but more worried about waking up on time. Turns out that this race started at 7:00 am, an hour earlier than most races. Plus because I had never run this race before I decided to wake up by 4:30 am.

I ended up throwing E off a bit when I showed up at her house at 5:00 am, 15 minutes earlier than I said I would be.

We then met L at the metro and headed to the start of the race. 
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When we got to our corrals, we packed on in.¬†I knew it was going to be a crowded race. While I was at the expo, I actually tried to get my pace corral changed from a 9:00- 9:30 minute mile to an 8:30. I wasn’t able to change my corral, so L and I squeezed as close to the front of our corral as we could.

While waiting for the gun to go off, we took some race photos. 217537_10101092698036426_292698585_n

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THE RACE

After the National Anthem and a moment of silence in honor of Boston. We started running. Immediately, I was annoyed and wished I had moved to a faster pace corral. It was extremely crowded, and impossible to run at the pace I wanted. I sucked it up and politely weaved in and out, trying to pass slower runners. It started to space out around mile two, but there still were times through out the race when I felt squished. Although, this is a negative aspect about the race, this is also something that is totally out of race organizers’ control. Really this is just how large popular races are, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. I totally expected it and wasn’t shocked when it happened.

Below is a picture I found on the NWM facebook page, proof to show how crowded the race was at the start. 934153_541121825926278_1618223195_n

MY SPLITS

Finally, I was able to get up my speed. My first split, 5K (3.1 miles) mark was 0:25:19 which meant I was running around an 8:12 min/mile. My second split, 10K (6.2 miles)  mark was 0:51:48 which meant I was running between an 8:30 Р8:48 min/mile. I was feeling really good about this pace, and refueled with water and beans at this point.

It was around the 15K (9.3 miles) mark, when I¬†started to slow down a little. I got to the 15K mark at 1:21:05, it was then that I realized I wasn’t going to PR at 10 miles. At this point my legs started to feel heavy and my feet started to hurt a bit. This annoyed me, because my lung capacity was perfectly fine, I just desperately wished my legs were capable of moving faster, but they really couldn’t. I tried to focus on my form, and even did some high knees, but could only maintain that for a short bit. The only thing that could cure my heavy legs was a down hill.

Most people really love fast flat courses, I on the other hand love hills. It was at this point that I desperately began wishing for an up hill then a speedy down hill, just to mix things up a bit. But the hills were nonexistent, there was one small hill towards the end, but no down hill to follow. So I was just chugging along with heavy legs, on the boring flat pavement of Washington, DC.

Picture below from NWM facebook page. 

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My 20k (12.427 miles) split was 1:50:49 – not bad, but not a PR. I could see the finish line straight ahead, but I kept chugging along with heavy legs, and I finally made it there 13.1 miles in 1:57:03.

This is not a PR for me, but it is my Second Best half marathon time! Yay for that!! My last half, the Annapolis Half Marathon, that I ran on 12/1/12 was a PR 1:51. But before that I had never ran 13.1 in under 2:00:00. So to run two half marathons in a row in under 2 hours is a big accomplishment. I think I am done with running 2 hour half marathons, and on a different level now. Both of these races were also run in my Newton shoes, after months of focusing on my natural running stride, it proves that working on running form really does pay off in the end.

The Course

course

Honestly, most races that are held in DC, the course always ends up being the same that I train on daily. So there are really no surprises.  Sometimes this is an advantage, while other times it ends up being a disadvantage.  Why? The advantage is this is my home turf, and I know it inside and out. The disadvantage is that I have run it a million times, so it can become very boring.

Picture found on NWM facebook page.

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We ran over Memorial Bridge, which I have run in many other races including Cherry Blossom 10 miler earlier this month. I also run this bridge often in one of my regular 5 mile training loops. We ran Hains Point, which again I ran during the Cherry Blossom 10 miler. The only point of the race that I had never run before was when we ran in the 3rd street tunnel. This tunnel is a very long dark tunnel, a never-ending tunnel. Most of the girls, including E, thought this was the best part of the race. We ran through it in the beginning of the race, probably with in the first mile, and then again towards the end. The first time running through it, I hated every minute of it, and actually experienced a bit of anxiety. The reason for my anxiety was that in the beginning of the race it was so extremely crowded, I couldn’t run fast and I was behind slower runners, so we were all squished in there elbow to elbow. It was also extremely dark and loud. They had a band under there, made up of drummers, the noise was so loud I had to turn off my ipod. The sound echoed over and over again. On the way back though, the tunnel wasn’t as bad. I knew what it was going to be like, and at this point the crowd spaced out so I had more control on how fast I wanted to run. It also provided some shade which at that point was nice to get out of the sun for a minute or two.

Other than that the race was extremely flat, and since I love hills, there were times during the race I was wishing for more of a hilly course. Although, it was small I actually enjoyed the hill towards the end of the race. Hills mix things up and is good for runners, mentally and physically.

FINISH LINE and RACE SWAG

I could see the finish line in the distance, it seemed so close, but took forever to get there. But once I got there, I noticed they had put out a red carpet. Sweet move Nike! red carpet

Then there were a bunch of hott guys, handing out our race swag Р Tiffany & Co. necklaces, on a silver platter. The nice gentleman below was the one who handed me mine.

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tiffany

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We also received these awesome finisher shirts. I love the wicking material and the Tiffany themed color.

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The necklace was really stylish too. It says NWM Half 2013 on the back and it has a runner girl on the front. I think it would be fun to run the race several times just to collect the different necklaces.

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In the end, I really enjoyed this race and thought it was an amazing experience. It also was really different to run an all women’s race. I had only run an all women’s race one other time before, which was my first half marathon, the Zooma Half, and I couldn’t really judge the vibe because it was my first 13.1. But the energy for this race was definitely positive and¬†enthusiastic.

E said, “The race was about women empowerment.” I couldn’t agree more. With out men there, it felt less competitive. There were also a lot of runners there that were not running competitively, but rather running for a cause, such as raising money for cancer. Team and Training was one of those groups. In the end, we all raised money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This being said, there were tons of runners running for people they knew who had cancer, and some were cancer survivors, themselves.

One of the best things about running a large popular race is all the spectators that come out to watch, cheer, and support the runners. This race’s spectators did not fall short. Along the course, there were Team and Training coaches looking for the runners they coached. There were also tons of cool signs, that were more than inspiring, some even made us laugh. There were bands and dancers, that had one two many red bulls. There were kids , who sat as you approached the finish line, I probably high-fived, five of them.

Picture found on NWM facebook page.

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Spectators make such a difference for runners, during the race. And it was very comforting that people still came out, even after the tragedy that happened two weeks ago, during the Boston Marathon.

It was also very impressive how well organized the race was.  This was their first time in the DC area, but everything was beyond my expectations. There were tons of amazing volunteer. There were tons of porta potties, with short lines. I never had to wait in line to check my bag, or pick it up. And again the swag for this race was the best I have ever had!!

When I first heard the Nike Women Half Marathon was coming to the DC area, I thought to myself – Perfect, now I wont have to run it in San Fran. But after running this race, now more than ever, I want to run it in San Fran. I love running hills, so it would be interesting to see if I could do a better time running the Nike Women race in San Fran. It would be fun to compare the two races, and getting another Tiffany’s necklace wouldn’t be a bad thing!

However, when it comes to running an all women’s race, I have to admit I’d rather run with men mixed in the group. It is always fun to pass them.

Well done NIKE!

Thanks for a great race! 

Pictures found on NWM facebook page.

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