It’s been almost a full year since I’ve truly trained for a race, and this year has been all about running whenever and however I want to. That’s not to say I haven’t raced — I’ve completed a marathon relay and a 5K, but it feels good to have no training plan! At times this has left me a little unprepared for some of the races I signed up for this fall (cough cough Army 10 Miler that I did not run!), but I knew I could handle the Marine Corps Marathon 10K. I would still get to be apart of the amazing race day that is the MCM, but I would get to run and spectate. Two of my favorite things to do!
Race preparation started before race day, as it always does. On Friday evening, Joe and I headed to the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at The National Harbor to pick up our bibs and my favorite part of racing…our new shirts. 🙂 Bib & t-shirt pick-up were super easy as long as you had your bib number handy and could settle on a shirt size. There were plenty of volunteers at these stations and there was no line at all!
As you walked from the pick-up side of the expo to the shopping side, there were many more people. The official Brooks race clothing was your first stop as you entered, and it was pretty crowded with folks trying on clothes and shoes. Then you had your rows of sponsors handing out freebies, but by this point it was 7:45 PM and hanger was striking so we took a picture and hit the road!
Saturday was a rest day which ended with a nice pasta dinner from Olive Garden. I think my favorite part was that we ordered our pasta to go and ate it on the couch. My second favorite part was hearing that the wait at the restaurant was 45 minutes and my food was already cooked up and ready to go. #winning
Chicken alfredo, chicken scampi, salads, and breadsticks!
After waiting until the absolute last minute on Saturday night, I finally went to Harris Teeter at 9:45 PM for English muffins, peanut butter, and bananas. This is my tried and true race morning breakfast, so it had to be purchased! Then it was time for sleep since we had an early alarm.
6:15 AM wake up call & out the door by 6:45 AM. I don’t like to have a lot of extra time in the morning because then I will talk myself into sleeping much longer. 🙂 The metro wasn’t too crowded, but you could tell that everyone on board was a runner. The marathon runners got off a few stops after we got on, and the 10K runners continued riding the train until we reached the National Mall.
Mornings on the Mall are my favorite. 🙂 It was pretty chilly early on, but I had an old pullover that I was wearing and ready to toss away at the start line. Race corrals and restrooms were set up outside the National Gallery of Art and the lines were INSANE. There was a small security checkpoint before entering this area, but it didn’t take very long at all. We were shocked at the number of people waiting for restrooms and quickly made our way over to our corral. It was about 7:35 AM at this point, and the opening festivities were expected to begin about ten minutes later so it felt like perfect timing.
Joe is much faster than me, but we decided to start out together. This was our view as we warmed up and waited to begin! The race was delayed about 15 minutes due to traffic issues, but the announcers were super energetic and kept us entertained with stories and music. We cheered for two runners celebrating their 86th birthdays! Then, around 8:05 AM, it was time to run!
The 10K runners go on a very similar path as the marathon runners, so in our first mile we saw a sign that said Mile 19! I could hear everyone in the crowd making the same joke about how amazing they felt after running 19 miles when really it had been about 0.5 at this point. 🙂 I always start racing without music, so I was people watching and taking it all in. In the first mile, we did a quick turn around from the National Gallery of Art back towards the Washington Monument, and we also passed a water station early on. I skipped this one but so enjoyed seeing how encouraging the service men and women were as they handed out water and Gatorade!
We continued on toward the 14th Street Bridge, making our way into Crystal City. I was running consistent 9:10-9:20 miles, which is good for me right now, and I watched Joe’s hat for as long as I could as he sped off in front of me. 😉 Around mile 3 I put my headphones in and quickly walked my way through the second water/Gatorade station. I always walk so that I can get all of the drink in me!
Steeler Sunday and race day calls for a little “Renegade” in the headphones, so I listened and sang and kept on moving. I was really proud of myself for feeling like I pushed the whole time, but never felt the need to slow down too much or even walk. I took deep breaths through a cramp I got at mile 3.5, and kept on moving towards the Pentagon.
This is really the home stretch of the race, and you start to see the corrals that the marathon runners lined up in. As you approach Arlington Cemetery and run the last mile, there’s loud music playing and you know you’re getting close. The crowd support is also much stronger here since you’re not running down the highway anymore. Joe had already texted me that he finished, so I was focused on making it to 6.2 before 60 minutes was up. Thinking back, it was a pretty flat course except for the on or off ramps we ran up or down from the highway. But the race directors must know this because there’s a nice sharp hill right before the finish line. 🙂
I ran past the mile marker 6 and with 0.2 miles left, made a sharp right turn UP the hill towards Iwo Jima and the finish line. I was pretty annoyed by those in front of me who significantly slowed down or started walking at this point because I was trying to power to the finish, but I totally get why they did that! I just wish it had been on the side of the road instead of in the middle. 🙂
I finished in 58:34 which let me reach my goal of finishing in less than an hour! My PR for the 10K distance is 52:45, so I have some work to do to get back to that time, but I was super excited for my finish yesterday. And Joe ran some nice 7:20 minute miles after he ran ahead of me that let him finish in 51:40, which is a PR for him since it was his first 10K! It was very cool to be “medaled” by a Marine — they saluted and placed our medals around our necks. So cool!
We took all our finisher’s photos, grabbed our free food, and made our way back to the metro. The Finisher’s festival was very well organized and easy to navigate. This was a good thing since we were headed back to the race after a quick shower/breakfast to watch friends running the full marathon.
We took the metro to Arlington Cemetery, walked through a small security checkpoint, and headed down towards Route 110 in front of the cemetery to look out for friends. I was tracking all of them, and knew just when to look for them passing! Because we were watching so close to the finish, I almost wanted to warn them about that terrible hill they were about to encounter at the end, but I refrained. 😉 I love cheering for friends, but I also love cheering for people I don’t know who look like they’re running so strong right at the end or look like they just want to quit. The crowd gets so many people moving towards the end! All in all, it was a perfect day to race and spectate.
And fun fact: a race photographer took a picture of me and my sign. #ifeltaccomplished
“I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 26.2!”