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~ Marine Corps Marathon 2011 ~

October 31, 2011

Marine Corps Marathon 2011, for me is the culmination of 2 training cycles and over 1 year.    You see I was all set to run Marine Corps Marathon 2010.   BUT, I got injured.   Achilles tendonitis, could hardly walk and had to wear a boot and go to PT.   I deferred and decided to head to DC anyway to attend some fun tweetups and meetups and of course to cheer my friends on.   Even this year, I wasn’t quite sure if I would be able to run Marine Corps Marathon.   I had guaranteed entry into NYCM.   Yet, I chose to run MCM.   I felt strongly that if I didn’t run it this year, I probably never would.   My mama was around last year during my struggles and injury and I know it would have made her so happy if I completed the race.   So, I used my deferral from last year to sign up for this year.   A nice touch is you do not have to pay AGAIN to run MCM if you deferred last year.    I asked Coach Caleb Masland to be my coach again and he gladly said sure.   He mapped out a nice plan for me and I tried following it.

But before all that, I had to deal with some hard things.   My mama got very sick and I had to take care of her and my sister and I made some hard decisions.   My mama was brave and strong and never complained.   I promised her I would run and complete Marine Corps Marathon.   She smiled and winked and me and I know she understood.

After my mama passed away I had a really hard time finding and holding my running mojo.   Most days I didn’t feel like running so I didn’t.   Caleb was extremely patient with me and again mapped out a plan for me.   Then I had some lingering heel pain.   Then I overslept.  Then it was cold and rainy.   Then, I was lazy.   Still the mojo wouldn’t come.   But I kept on trying.    There was never a day when I thought to myself I can’t do this.   It was more like, I’ll do what I can, when I can.

With race day looming I knew I had to step it up so I got in one last longish run of 17 miles.   And with that I was ready.    Got to DC Friday afternoon and was really excited to meet up with Coach Caleb and Thomas for a shakeout run.   Just a nice 2.2 miler to get the blood flowing in my legs.   Great fun!!!   Then off to meet up #1 at a cool trendy restaurant in Arlington, VA.   Thomas and Cindy and Caleb.   The beer selection was in a huge binder, even bigger than the menu.   I really had no idea what beer to order so I had the same as Caleb and Thomas.   Fun times.   Brodie W showed up a bit later.   More fun.

Saturday was such a bad day weather wise.   Rainy, windy, snowy, cold.   We all headed to the expo for bib pickup and a little walk around.   Fun again.

Ally and I

There was a fun Dailymile meetup in the afternoon and then a great fun dinner with amazing friends.

Marine Corps Marathon ~ October 30th 2011

The weather was spectacular.   Not a cloud in the sky, literally.   Azure blue skies with a bit of a wind but I’ve run in worse.    Thank you mama, for that!   After some bag drop off’s at Ally/Steve hotel we got to the start area.   There are no corrals like in NYCM.   Everybody starts at the same time, you just line up according to finish time.   I was with Ally and we moved into the 3.45 starting area intending to move back.   It was kinda crowded so we stayed put knowing we/I would run much slower.   We danced to “Move like Jagger” a bit and then we were off.   I love that I was able to start MCM with Ally.   This made it all the more special to me.

So, I don’t know about you, but somehow in my mind, I thought that this wouldn’t be too difficult.   I broke it up into 2 half marathons and armed with instructions from Coach, I was off and running.    I wish I would write a race report where I remember every single mile and how I was feeling.   But, I can’t.   I remember all of it, but it’s hard to put it into words.

Mile 1 was nice at 10.54 and then I took my first 1 minute walk break.   Then I remember a hill or two.   I remember feeling upset because I suck at running hills.   I may always suck at running hills.   Then at mile 4 there was a glorious downhill and I ran that mile in 10.05.   That would be my fastest mile of the day.   At mile 7 I took my first GU.   Man that tasted good, like chocolate pudding and it actually gave me a nice boost.  The Marines giving out the water and gatorade were so nice.   So serious but so nice.   Maybe, around this point I started feeling chaffing in an area of my body.   Specifically, in between my leggies.   And here is where my thoughts turned from not too difficult to OUCH!!!   I kept trying to adjust my shorts but to no avail.   Eventually, I saw a Marine holding out a popsicle stick covered in vaseline so I ran over and fumbled taking off my gloves.   I took that vaseline as if it was the last on earth and kind of  squatted and slathered it where it needed to go.   The Marine didn’t flinch.   I just kept slathering.   And it helped.  A LOT.

I used the energy of the spectators and the runners and I accepted and gave high fives to lots of kids and adults.   They were adorable and made me smile.   The kids, not the adults.  Although they were kinda adorable too.   At this point I sort of lost my sense of math.   I wasn’t sure where to take walk breaks.   But then I got into a zone of running as much as I could and then walking for 1 minute.    I had another GU somewhere in between and also ate a thin mint girl scout cookie and some gummy bears.   I like gummy bears.   At mile 24 were the Munchkins.   No, I wasn’t in the Wizard of Oz. or was I?

Minor changes to this year’s MCM course will create even more opportunities for runners to experience the best of the nation’s capital.  Marathoners can expect changes that will affect fewer than three miles of the course but promise to offer new views of the NationalMall and its various landmarks.

GeorgetownThe USATF certified route starts in Arlington, VA on Route 110, same as in previous years, although this year, the start will be seven hundred feet closer to the Pentagon. The route winds its way through Rosslyn along Lee Highway before turning on Spout Run and the George Washington Parkway. Runners will experience a climb on Lee Highway in the first few miles of the course, but are rewarded with a descent along Spout Run and the Parkway.

After crossing Key Bridge into Georgetown, runners turn toward the Palisades Community when the course follows Canal Road, up to the reservoir and down MacArthur Boulevard.  The course guides runners down popular M Street in Georgetown.

Runners will turn on Wisconsin Avenue and then K Street. The course passes the Kennedy Center and guides runners to the back of the Lincoln Memorial before continuing on Ohio Drive into Hains Point at the halfway point.

Lincoln MemorialOutside Potomac Park, runners will get a glimpse of the Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin.  On Independence Avenue, competitors will run by the newly-unveiled Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial and FDR Memorial.  The runners will loop back along Independence Avenue on the side closest to the National Mall and the Korean and WWII Memorials before making a left turn onto 15th Street at the National Monument.

At Madison Drive, runners will pass through the MCM “Gauntlet” and down the north side of the National Mall, running by the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History and the National Gallery of Art.  After a loop around the reflecting pool in front of the U.S. Capitol, runners will continue down the south side of the National Mall past the Smithsonian Castle.  Runners move along Jefferson Drive and turn onto the 14th Street to “Beat the Bridge” at Mile 20 before returning to Virginia.

For the last 10K runners will enjoy the color and energy of Crystal City.  At the Pentagon, runners will pass in close proximity to the Pentagon Memorial honoring the victims of 9/11.  Finally, the course unfurls alongside the Arlington National Cemetery then offers a final, up-hill challenge to the finish at the Marine Corps War Memorial. It is truly a beautiful course.

Here are my splits:

10.54, 12.20, 12.04, 10.05, 12.56, 12.02, 12.54, 14.51, 12.14, 11.35, 11.26, 12.17 12.14, 15.00, 13.15, 13.25, 13,35, 14.02, 14.15, 14.41, 15.47, 16.13, 15.48, 15.28, 17.45, 15.32, last 0.60 miles in 7.01 (11.44 pace)   Yep, Barney had me at 26.60 miles.

Back to the story:

MCM Gauntlet:  Runners must maintain 14 minute per mile pace to pass the MCM Gauntlet at mile 17.5 at the intersection of 14th Street and Madison Drive NW.  A tail-end vehicle will be in place to easily identify the necessary pace by 12:45 p.m.  Runners slower than the required pace will be detoured for safety reasons but will quickly rejoin the marathon course.  These participants may continue to run the course but will not complete an official marathon.  It is requested any runners rerouted at the Gauntlet not accept a finisher medal.

Beat the Bridge:Runners must maintain the 14 minute per mile pace to reach the 14th Street Bridge and successfully “Beat the Bridge” just after mile marker 20.  The 14th Street Bridge will reopen to vehicular traffic making it unavailable to runners after 1:15 p.m.  Any runners unable to “Beat the Bridge” will be required to board the straggler buses and be driven to the event finish area.

I had the above on my mind pretty much until I reached and “Beat the Bridge”.    And then it was mile 20 and I kinda imploded.   My mind said go go go my legs said no no no.   There was walking as you can see from my splits.  Lots of folks were walking at this point.   I wasn’t really even wanting to start any conversations with people.   I was so inside my own head and I just kept heading forward.   I talked to my mama though.   She helped me a lot.   Then I thought I am already with my mama, all I need is my sister with me so I made a decision.   When I hit mile 25 I will call my sister and run that last mile with both her and my mama rooting for me.   Susan gave me exactly what I needed.   A friendly voice and a boost.   I told her I want to beat 6 hours and she told I could do it and to start running slowly and then I started running faster.   She was on speakerphone talking to me and encouraging me.   I said nothing.  She heard me running.  She heard everything around me too.    I crossed that finish line RUNNING with my mama and sister with me.   5.59.47.   What an amazing incredible feeling.   They were both with me when a handsome Marine put my medal around my neck, shook my hand and said in a loud booming voice  “YOU ROCK”.   They were there.   She was there.    
I never once doubted that I could finish.   I never once thought to myself I can’t do this anymore.   Like my mama, I was brave and strong and never complained.  It was hard.  So hard.   But so rewarding.   The very hard year I had made this all the sweeter.   My mama is so proud of me.   My sister is so proud of me.   You are all so proud of me.   And here is the really cool amazing part.   After I crossed the finish line, after I got my medal, after I wandered around and ate an ice cream sandwich, after all that, I looked down and there was a heads up penny.    (commence chills now)
I love being a runner.   There is nothing quite like it.   I love so much about it.    Marine Corps Marathon is wonderful.   It’s the “peoples marathon”   It’s special.   I am now excited to shift gears a bit and be the spectator/cheering person for all my friends running New York City Marathon in 6 days.    Who know what great adventures in running I will have in 2012.   But, I can’t wait to find out.
“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Hebrews 12:1 



11 Comments leave one →
  1. October 31, 2011 7:00 pm


  2. October 31, 2011 7:10 pm

    Congrats! A very fine accomplishment. Hope you are feeling good today…

  3. October 31, 2011 7:46 pm

    So cool Michelle. Tremendous!

  4. October 31, 2011 7:46 pm

    HUGE congratulations Michelle!!! And the great running weather and the heads up penny, icing on the perfect cake.

  5. Linda V permalink
    October 31, 2011 9:06 pm

    That’s almost my EXACT, if not the EXACT time I ran that last year. CONGRATS!!!

  6. Amy permalink
    October 31, 2011 11:25 pm

    Congrats Michelle!!!!! I’m so happy for you!!!

  7. November 1, 2011 12:36 am

    Huge congrats, M! Sounds like an amazing experience. Great that you had your Mama and sister to help you push on through that last mile.

    No matter what else you do in your running life, You Are a Marathoner!

  8. November 1, 2011 2:47 pm

    Congrats Michelle! It’s been so great to get to know you through all your posts everywhere and your honesty throughout the process. Celebrate and get some rest! I can’t wait to see what happens next.

  9. November 1, 2011 5:42 pm

    Wow, you really had to power through there at the end! I might need some of that mentality on saturday. Congratulations!

  10. November 3, 2011 12:11 am

    Thank you for sharing this amazing post Michelle. We are so proud of you!

  11. November 8, 2011 6:50 am

    It has been awhile since I have told you what a great motivator you are! Your story of the MCM is great. Congratulations on your dedication to getting it done. Keep up the great work.

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