Race Recap: Marine Corps Marathon

So happy at mile 18.

So happy at mile 18.

Marathon Magic

Before I ran my first marathon last April at Big Sur, one of my coworkers told me about something she called “marathon magic.” I was freaking out and anxious about the seemingly impending doom that was running 26.2 miles along Highway 1 and I told her I wasn’t feeling good and my legs felt slow and sore. She told me that come race day, undoubtedly, something called “marathon magic” would kick in and all of the pieces would fall into place.

I ended up finishing Big Sur (with some walking) in 4:33:41, not terrible for my first marathon and the challenging course. Leading up to Marine Corps last weekend I was feeling the same way. My left calf muscle had been irritable for weeks, I was starting to come down with a cold, and my hips (which had been fine all throughout training) were feeling oddly sore. I was nervous about my time goal of breaking 4:15, and even more nervous about my secret goal of breaking 4:10, and my “dream big” goal seemed completely out of reach.

But like clock work, come early Sunday morning, when I lined up with my pace group, the “marathon magic” set in. I finished Marine Corps in 4:07:06, a 26 minute, 35 second PR.

Finish200

The Race

I got to the starting line early to get settled into my corral and be there in time to watch the Wounded Warrior Project paratroopers jump from the sky with flags attached to land at the start. It was pretty inspiring to watch them floating through the sky as someone sang the national anthem just outside of Arlington National Cemetery. (Pro tip: if you run MCM get to the start early to see all of this!)

I also wanted to get to the start early because MCM has you self-corral based on what you think you’re finishing time would be. I trained for a 4:15 but decided to line up a little closer to the 4:00 group. The start was very congested and when the howitzer went off to signal the start, it ended up being more of a slow crawl than a run. After about two miles and the first set of hills, the pack thinned out a bit.

My plan going into the race was to focus on 5-mile increments. I typically go on 5-mile runs during lunch so in my mind, breaking 26.2 miles down to 5-mile increments helped (I also fuel every 5 miles). Then I figured I’d give it my all in the last 1.2 miles to go with my mantra – Last mile, strong mile, kick it in.

I was lucky to see my parents really early on in the race around the mile 2 marker, which gave me the surge I needed in the very beginning. My boyfriend had also gone to the start but since there were so many runners, it was tough to find him in the crowd while focusing on not tripping over the runner in front of me.

Once the field thinned out, I focused on staying steady and consistent. I was trying my hardest to run even splits but between the spectators, the inspiring runners running alongside me, the military presence, and my own personal cheer squad, my paces darted around a bit. I joked after that every time I saw my parents or my boyfriend, I ran my fastest miles – I guess I got a little excited.

My cheer squad :)

My cheer squad :)

Takeaways

The race itself is all still a bit of a blur to me. I’m terrible at really breaking down races, mile by mile for recaps but there were some incredible highlights:

  • Seeing my family at the very beginning of the race and then again around mile 18/19.
  • Seeing my boyfriend at mile 10, 16 (he even ran with me a bit then!), and the finish.
  • Seeing Bart Yasso twice and having him yell my name!
  • Running the Run to Remember mile out on Hains Point in honor of fallen veterans.
  • Running alongside those running for their loved ones who have served, are active duty, or who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
  • All of the Marines who were genuinely cheering for all of us. It seemed odd because we really should be the ones cheering for them.
  • Surprising myself and running a huge PR.

The best part about my second marathon, besides my cheer squad, though was being able to run the entire 26.2 without walking and feeling like it was actually comfortable. It makes me wonder, and dream, about what I could do once I get more experience under my belt with the distance. I think the whole “marathon magic” thing happens for different reasons. At Big Sur, the marathon magic came to me because it was my first marathon. At MCM it came because I knew I had my family there cheering me on.

When my co-worker first told me about “marathon magic” I didn’t believe her. After Big Sur, I was still a little cynical about it but MCM confirmed it for me. Marathon magic is real, and I believe it.

Stats

Ran: 26.62 miles in 4:07:06 at 9:17/mile average

Splits:
(1)10:15 (2) 9:40 (3) 9:38 (4) 9:05 (5) 9:26 (6) 9:00 (7) 9:23 (8) 9:28 (9) 9:11 (10) 9:00

(11) 9:07 (12) 8:56 (13) 9:02 (14) 9:12 (15) 9:08 (16) 9:15 (17) 9:09 (18) 9:18 (19) 9:13

(20) 9:26 (21) 9:05 (22) 9:14 (23) 9:12 (24) 9:12 (25) 9:39 (26) 9:34 (27) 5:28 (for 0.60)

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Race Recap: Runner’s World Half Marathon

Half-with-Ashley500Last weekend I ran my third half marathon at our very own Runner’s World Half & Fesitval in Bethlehem, PA. I had zero plan going into race day other than using the 13.1 miles as a final long run heading into Marine Corps Marathon week.

When I say I had zero plan, what I really mean is my plan was to keep it easy. It’s really hard to do that though in a race. Had I been out on my normal training run, keeping it easy is no problem, enjoyable even. But in a race, with people to pass and pacers to keep behind you, it’s tough. Add a Runner’s World singlet to that and it feels impossible.

Luckily, I was able to hook up with Ashley before the start and we had talked about running together. She also wanted to take it easy since she was on her final race of the Hat Trick (5K, 10K, and half) so we ran the entire thing together.

We stopped a few times to walk and took a pee break. Ashley got some speed work in when she chased after a guy who made fun of us for walking, saying “it might as well be called Walker’s World.” But other than that, I thought the half was really enjoyable.

The course is tough, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s impossible to find an “easy, flat” course in the Lehigh Valley. It’s a valley. There are hills. But hills definitely make you stronger and running up and down them gave me the confidence boost I needed going into MCM.

One thing I took away though is that I really do like the half marathon distance. Like I said before, this was only my third half so I don’t have a ton of experience with them but I really think it could be a good starting point for me to start focusing on speed. It’s a manageable enough amount of miles to be able to come up with a solid race plan- I’m definitely not there yet with the marathon. But with a half, I can focus on my speed without dealing with the breakdown that comes with the territory of training for a marathon.

I’m feeling good going into Marine Corps but I think I need a break after. Running at the RW Half this weekend really made me realize I should try to focus on gaining speed after MCM to PR in the half which will eventually help me get better at marathons so I can one day reach my “dream big” goal.

Did you ever have to re-assess your running plans to focus on a larger goal?

Marine Corps Marathon Training: Week 15

Post-race at the RW Half

Post-race at the RW Half

My second to last week of training went surprisingly well! It was a very busy week at work leading up to the Runner’s World Half but I was able to fit most of my runs in. It was a taper week though so my legs are really starting to feel antsy and ready to run. Also, shout out to my boyfriend who ran a PR at the Columbus Marathon on Sunday #proudgirlfriend!

Monday – Yoga

Tuesday – 3 miles, easy

I felt really good on this run. It was only 3 miles but I felt like I got some of the speed back into my legs. I know I should take it easy since I’m at the beginning of my taper but I couldn’t help myself!

Plan: 3 miles, easy
Actual: 3 miles in 25:05 at 8:21/mile pace
Splits:
(1) 8:50 (2) 8:12 (3) 7:59

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 4
Conditions: 69 degrees, sunny

Wednesday – 6 miles with 4x800m

This was my final Yasso 800 workout and it went really well. I did it after work and although I was kind of tired, my legs felt pretty good.

Plan: 2 mile warmup, 4×800 in 4:15 with 400m recovery, 1 mile cool down
Actual:
2-mile warmup at 9:06/mile pace (Mile 1: 9:12; Mile 2: 8:57)
4×800 with 400 recovery in between each set
(1) 3:54 (7:48/mile pace)
(2) 3:41 (7:23/mile pace)
(3) 3:40 (7:20/mile pace)
(4) 3:30 (7:04/mile pace)
1-mile cool down at 9:08/mile pace

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19

Thursday – REST

Friday – 3 miles RW Half shakeout run

Saturday – REST

Sunday – 13.2 miles at the RW Half

I ran this race with Ashley and we had a great time! We took it very easy and it was a great substitute for a final long run before Marine Corps! Hoping to do an actual recap very soon!

Weekly Mileage Total: 25 miles

{Monday Motivation} Decide You Want It

Well, here I am, less than a week away from running my second marathon at the Marine Corps Marathon. The taper is starting to get at me a little bit but after a successful showing at yesterday’s Runner’s World Half Marathon I’m feeling ready to run. Since I started having some tweaky overtraining related injuries a few weeks ago I decided to let go of my secret time goal for Marine Corps. I shifted focus and decided I want to just PR and have a good race. I’m going to stick to that but I still want (hope) I might have it in me to go for that secret goal. It’s ambitious and I don’t think it’s completely realistic at this point but if I don’t try, I’ll never know, right? Good luck to everyone else who’s tapering this week!

(Source: Pinterest)

(Source: Pinterest)

Marine Corps Training: Week 13 and 14

(Source: Pinterest)

(Source: Pinterest)

Totally slacking on posting my workouts here! (If you want real-time update, be sure to add me on Daily Mile!) But training has been going well and it’s (FINALLY) starting to wind down. I’ve had a few bumps in the road with some IT band and lower leg soreness on my left leg but I was able to readjust my training schedule and work through it. I also had a major bump in the road this past week with some GI issues during my long run, not fun at all. But I’m feeling ready and looking forward to starting my taper this week. I’m also really looking forward to the Runner’s World Half this weekend which I’ll be running as my final training run. Will I see you there?

Week 13 – Sept. 30-Oct. 6

Monday: Yoga

45 minutes of Vinyasa Flow Yoga

Tuesday: 6 miles, easy

My IT Band was acting up again on this run. I really thought about stopping the run short and walking back to the office. I was able to power through but it definitely gave me some pause. I’m going to re-evaluate my training plan and cut back some of the mileage. I think I may have been a little too ambitious with a higher mileage training plan.

Plan: 6 miles, easy
Actual: 6 miles in 57:38 at 9:36/mile pace
Splits:
(1) 9:35 (2) 9:30 (3) 9:48 (4) 9:37 (5) 9:43 (6) 9:24

Shoes: Asics Gel Flux
Conditions: Way too hot!

Wednesday: 8 miles with 5x800m at 4:15

Run one of the day went well. It was so dreadfully hot outside though that it was pretty slow going. I ran with a coworker which was really nice because sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation to do a shorter run.

Plan: 3 miles easy
Actual: 3 miles in 27:00 at 9:00/mile

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: 80 degrees, full sun

This Yasso 800 workout went surprisingly well! I ran it on the treadmill because I have a habit of doing Yasso 800s WAY faster than goal pace so I wanted to see what the pace really felt like. I felt really great the whole time though and my IT band didn’t hurt too bad which was really great.

Plan: 5 miles with 5x800m Yasso 800s at 4:15 (8:30/mile)
Actual:
1-mile warmup at 9:22/mile pace
5×800 in 4:13 (8:27/mile pace)
.5-mile cool down

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: Indoors

Thursday: 50 minutes of Strength Training

Strength Workout for Runners:

Abs-
3 x 1:00 planks
3 x 0:30 side planks
3 x 0:45 supine planks
3 x 0:45 bicycles
3 x 0:45 bridge

Arms- 3 x 10 of all
Rotational Should Press (10lbs)
Alternating Dumbbell Rows (15lbs)
Tricep Pulls (15lbs)
21s (8lbs)

3 x 15 standing side leg lifts
3 x 10 calf raises

Friday: 5 miles, easy

5 miles in 45:44 at 9:08/mile pace

Saturday: 5 mile shakeout

Sunday: 20 miles, long slow distance

This was my last 20-miler of Marine Corps training and it was honestly my best training run in a long time. I felt really good during the whole run and when I got to mile 10 I decided I would try to pick it up. I ended up running a negative split with a fast finish. This was absolutely the confidence-boosting run I needed.

Plan: 20 miles, long slow distance (10:30-11:00 according to plan)
Actual: 20 miles in 3:14:34 at 9:43/mile pace
Splits:
(1) 10:25 (2) 9:42 (3) 9:49 (4) 10:00 (5) 9:50 (6) 9:56 (7) 9:58 (8) 9:57 (9) 9:42 (10) 9:33 (11) 9:41 (12) 9:43 (13) 9:44 (14) 9:43 (15) 9:53 (16) 9:33 (17) 9:33 (18) 9:24 (19) 9:33 (20) 8:49

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: 68 degrees, 94 percent humidity, overcast

Week 14 – Oct. 7-Oct. 13

Monday: 25 minutes of yoga

I tried out Rebecca Pacheco’s Essential Yoga for Runners video on our website.

Tuesday: 7.2 miles

Run One: This run went well during lunch. I had to split up my mileage today because I could do it all in one run during lunch.

Plan: 5.1 miles in 47:44
Splits:
(1) 9:45 (2) 9:23 (3) 9:42 (4) 9:16 (5) 8:58

Run Two: I did this run on the treadmill after work and made sure to stretch a bunch and foam roll after.

Plan: 2 miles in 17:30

Wednesday: 7.15 miles

I ran this early in the morning and it was quite chilly! I felt good though and just took it easy.

Plan: 7 miles, easy
Actual: 7.15 miles in 1:06:11
Splits:
(1) 9:51 (2) 9:19 (3) 9:12 (4) 9:24 (5) 9:27 (6) 9:02 (7) 8:47

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: 48 degrees overcast

Thursday: 6.26 miles

I felt absolutely phenomenal on this run! This was honestly the best run I’ve had in a long time and I was really excited once I finished. My left leg only hurt a little and even in the pouring rain it was my fastest pace in a few weeks which was great. I also ran with a group of ladies at work who I don’t usually get the chance to run with so that was really nice.

Plan: 5 miles, easy
Actual: 6.26 in 54:20 at 8:40/mile pace
Splits:
(1) 9:06 (2) 8:29 (3) 8:38 (4) 8:25 (5) 8:32 (6) 8:53 (7) 2:17 for .26

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: 52 degrees, raining

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 4 mile shakeout

I was supposed to run a local 5K but found out they didn’t have race day registration so I ended up running around the park instead.

Plan: 3.1 miles + 1-mile cool down
Actual: 4.1 miles in 36:33 at 8:54/mile
Splits:
(1) 9:21 (2) 8:57 (3) 8:43 (4) 8:53

Sunday: 10.5 miles

This run started off so well and ended pretty terribly. It was the first time I ran with my super speedy BF and he promised to run my pace (which he did) and I actually felt really great, until about mile 7 when I started having major GI issues. It was bad. I was able to make it back to the house but had to cut 6 miles off my run (was planning to do 16) because I was really not feeling well. I think the problem was a new drink I tried before the run but who knows?

I’m not that upset about not getting in the 16. My training plan for Big Sur had me running 13 two weeks out from the marathon, and 10 one week out (this one had me doing 16 two weeks out and 10 one week out) but I’m running the RW Half next weekend so it should all equal out.

{Monday Motivation} Sunday Mornings

Lately, I’ve been in a real funk with my training. None of my runs were feeling too great and I kept dreading the Sunday long runs. Until yesterday. I had set my alarm for 6 a.m. and woke up to darkness. Instead of wanting to roll over and go back to sleep I was oddly excited. I took it as a good omen that my last 20-miler of Marine Corps Marathon training would go well. Sure enough, it did. I took the first 10 mile super easy and then decided to pick it up for the last 10, running a perfect negative split and a 2-mile fast finish (the last mile was a 8:49!). Runs like that make me remember why I really do love running. Waking up early on a Sunday morning to go run for a few hours is total bliss when all goes well. I hope you had a great long run last weekend and more to come this week!

(Source: Nike Running on Pinterest)

(Source: Nike Running on Pinterest)

Marine Corps Training: Week 12

"I Run This Body" bracelet courtesy of Miss Dorothy Beal! (www.mile-posts.com)

“I Run This Body” bracelet courtesy of Miss Dorothy Beal! (www.mile-posts.com)

We’re getting down to the wire now and week 12 was a cutback week which gave me plenty of time to think about how close we’re getting to race day. I needed this cutback week desperately after dealing with some IT band soreness and shinsplints the week before. While the soreness is still there on my runs, I’m trying now to just focus on getting to the starting line at Marine Corps and finishing the race. My workouts went really well last week so I’m hoping this week will be successful too.

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 6 miles, easy

I felt pretty good on this run until I got the worst side stitch of my life nearly 2 miles into the run. Seriously, I’ve never had a side stitch so bad, it felt like my entire abdominal muscle was seizing up. Ouch! Thankfully it went away after I stopped to stretch it out and take some deep breathes. I also took this run super easy because my legs are still feeling the after-effects of Sunday’s 20-miler. This run also confirmed for me that my Garmin is off by about .05-mile which means my paces are probably actually a tad faster than they read.

Plan: 6 miles, easy
Actual: 6 miles in 55:35 at 9:15/mile
Splits:
(1) 9:31 (2) 9:19 (3) 9:06 (4) 9:22 (5) 9:17 (6) 8:57

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: 61 degrees, sunny

Wednesday: 10 miles total (two runs)

Run One:

I felt really good on this run. I wanted to take it easy since I’d be running later on again but I felt great. My Garmin was way off though again which was frustrating.

Plan: 5 miles easy
Actual: 5.45 miles in 49:09 at 9:01/mile
Splits:
(1) 9:22 (2) 9:10 (3) 8:57 (4) 8:54 (5) 8:50

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19

Run Two:

4.55 miles in 39:00 at 8:35/mile pace

This run felt INCREDIBLE! So happy!

Thursday: 8 miles, easy

Ran 8 miles in 1:12 at 9:00/mile pace after work.

Friday: 5 miles, easy

Ran 5 miles in 44 minutes at 8:48/mile pace

It was Move at Work Day at Rodale so I joined in on the 3-mile group run and added 2 miles to the beginning.

Saturday: Rest Day (Mom came to visit!)

Sunday: 13 miles, long slow distance

I felt really good on this run. It was refreshing to have a “shorter” long run too. I ran on a rail trail with my roommate who had to run 11 miles. It was fun to just be out there with her and talk.

Plan: 13 miles, easy
Actual: 13 miles in 2:04:07 at 9:32/mile average
Splits:
(1) 9:26 (2) 9:23 (3) 9:30 (4) 9:30 (5) 9:53 (6) 9:38 (7) 9:48 (8) 9:27 (9) 9:46 (10) 9:34 (11) 9:45 (12) 9:30 (13) 8:54

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: 68 degrees

Weekly Mileage Total: 42 miles