It's been a week, and I still haven't blogged about the Marine Corps Marathon.
I think I'm still trying to process the race. I finished, and this may have been the first race that I ran a consistent pace for 30K. (My Dad signed up for text updates during the race, and that was the thing that struck him.) But, I didn't PR. Philadelphia is still my fastest time, and I'm not any closer to beating Oprah's marathon time. I seem to be getting slower at the marathon, and the only way that I can explain it is that I ran three races (two halfs and a 10-miler) before I arrived at the start in Philly. Is this the plateau that everyone talks about?
Last Sunday feels like it was ages ago. It was strange not to travel to a marathon and have Saturday completely to myself. I was in bed early and up in time to take Metro to Pentagon. Rain and wind threatened the start, but it ended up being a nice day (albeit cloudy and a little windy) for a marathon. Once the race started, I had to remind myself to hold back. "You're going too fast for the first mile." "Don't go faster than 10:00." "Wait until the half marathon marker to let loose."
I kept thinking about how beautiful the race would have been on a sunny day. After the start, we headed into Rosslyn and looped back near Spout Run and the GW Parkway before crossing the Key Bridge and following Canal Road to the Georgetown Reservoir. The leaves were golden. A sunny day would have made them shine.
I kept a 10:20 pace back through Georgetown, to the Mall, and to Hains Point. My training and racing experience at Hains Point is that it can be boring and lonely. But, for some reason, it didn't feel that way during this race. At this point, I wanted to go faster and I did for a while.
We went back toward the Mall and the Lincoln Memorial, and I kept an even pace. I looked at my watch around 18.30, and that's when things started to go downhill. (I wonder if I psyched myself out by looking at my watch then. Mile 18 has always been the struggle. Did I actually hit the wall, or was it all in my head?)
The 14th Street Bridge seemed longer as we made our way into Crystal City. At that point, I really wanted it to be over, but I kept running until we were back near the Pentagon and heading toward the finish at Iwo Jima.
Everyone warns about the "hill" at the end, but it wasn't that bad. Besides, I'm pretty sure that everything feels like a hill once you've run 26 miles.
When I crossed the finish line, an active duty member of the Marine Corps placed the medal around my neck. Every runner was given a jacket and a box of chow before heading out of the finish area.
Here are the numbers --
Gun time: 5:12:41
Net time: 4:57:59
PR: Philadelphia Marathon 2011 - 4:39:29
I've started to run again but don't feel completely recovered. Once I get to 100%, my goal is to run a fast 8K and maybe try to get my 5K time down. After that, I'll give some thought as to whether I want to run a half-marathon or a full in March..