Training for Marine Corps went very well. I had not completed a marathon since January of 2008. A stress fracture in the fall of 2008 then took me away from running for 6 months, and defeated a bit of my mental racing state. I knew in the spring that I wanted to again race my favorite distance. While training, much of my workouts consisted of long runs at marathon pace (6:40) which had me feeling confident and comfortable as the race approached.
Forecast, Oh the Forecast:
The forecast for Sunday was less than ideal. With Hurricane Sandy approaching, the forecast predicted a change of rain and wind up to 20 mph. Certainly not ideal weather in which to race a marathon but I knew I would put my best out there and take it on one mile at a time.
The Marine Corps Marathon offers its rolling hills in the first 8 miles of the course. I was able to approach this well, keeping pace when the course was flat, adding a bit of time on the hills, and taking off a bit on the down hills. I was exactly where I needed to be coming into Georgetown and approaching mile 9. The crowd support was amazing, offering so many familiar faces cheering. I ran through mile 10 in 66:40 and headed into Haines Point.
On our way to Haines Point, the wind gusts became noticeable and I knew the battle with the wind had begun, one I was willing to fight with everything I had. Still strong and pushing on, I crossed the half in 1:27:10. Normally Marine Corps is a good marathon for negative splitting, however the increasing winds as the morning went on made this goal a challenge. The backside of Haines Point brought stronger wind gusts and I found my struggle increasing. I continued to work hard, trying to work with other runners when I
could and maximize moments of more calm air.
Miles 15-22 brought on a greater challenge yet as the course took us around the capital and back towards the 14th Street Bridge. The winds in this section were so strong and the race seemed surreal. Again, I was determined to continue the battle and fought to keep my pace, still on target, beginning to notice the fatigue that came with the miles and the battle against the conditions.
Between miles 22 and 23 was when I started to feel my body exhaust. It had fought a long and hard battle and with 3.5 miles to go I could tell it was running out of steam and strength to continue the journey. My quads began to ache and my overall body began to feel worn. The extra energy exerted to battle the wind took more than I had to give. My pace slowed from 6:30-6:45 and I began to see some 7:30-8:00 minute mile splits. Thankfully, I still had support cheering in Crystal City and the last stretch of route 110. After struggling through the last chunk of the marathon, I crossed the line in 3:01, a few minutes shy of my 2:55 goal, finishing in 12th place.
Though my time was not what I had hoped it would be, the race was everything I could have asked for. I was reminded of why I love this distance, the marathon, which brings such an unpredictable experience as it challenges us to extremes.