Well I made it! This past Sunday was the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC, and I am home safe and sound after successfully completely it! This was my first full marathon, and I am happy to say for the most part it was a very positive experience.
Sure I had lots of ideas about how this run would go, and some panned out and other things came up that I didn’t account for. Thankfully nothing went terribly awry, nor did I get injured (expect for my ego). Overall, my first marathon experience was a good one, and I am incredibly happy I chose Marine Corps as my first.
Continue reading to learn more about the race, my experience, and to see some horribly unattractive photos of me.
The Marine Corps Marathon has been running since 1976, and is the 6th largest marathon in the US. There are roughly 30,000 participants, and that amount of runners combined with spectators, and the sights in DC truly make for an incredible experience.
I was first exposed to the race when my husband ran it last year, and I was in awe of the number of people running, and the energy and excitement that surrounded the event. The fact that you are running through our nation’s capitol, and have sights like the Washington Monument and the US Capitol Building along the race route really make it a unique experience.
Since this is the Marine Corps Marathon, having a Howitzer canon at the starting line, an flyover by Ospreys, and a boot lieutenant to give you your finisher medal also make this race unlike any other. While I ran a lot of the races at Camp Lejeune while my husband was stationed there, they didn’t seem to have quite the same level of pomp and circumstance as this one!
Not a bad view mid race!
I planned and trained pretty hard for this race. While I felt I had the stamina and conditioning to do well in this race, there were a few factors I had not really prepared for. Remember how I mentioned earlier that there are roughly 30,000 runners? Yes well here’s the thing about that- there are 30,000 runners and damn is it crowded! Not just at the start line, but throughout most of the course there are so many bottleneck points that it is hard to get past a lot of people. I tried my best at the start to get up to my desired pace group, but couldn’t before the race began. That one mistake unfortunately left me with a much slower group than anticipated, which I spent most of my time fighting to get past, or getting lulled into going a slower pace.
I ran this race so much slower than I anticipated, and honestly that is the main issue I have been struggling with since I crossed the finish line. Sure I am slow runner, that isn’t news to me, but I still had time in mind and missed it by a large margin. I had set out with a goal of 4:30, thinking I’d make it in 4:45 realistically. Unfortunately my slow start and pace, combined with some nasty blisters that decided to show up at mile 20 left me finishing at 5:19. While I am trying to remain upbeat about it, it is still very frustrating to look back at something like this and to realize you missed your goal, and could have worked harder to reach it. Yes, I am happy I finished the race, and yes I am happy I feel surprisingly ok after, but I am still a little mad at myself for how it turned out.
I know that feeling will dissipate with time, and I will look back and be happy that I finished my first marathon successfully, and learned a lot from it, but for now, I still feeling slightly disappointed with myself. I know that if I decide to run another full marathon, I have a much better sense of what I need to prepare for, and I have some pretty strong emotions to motivate me to do better.
So while I am struggling with feeling disappointed in myself, ultimately I am still happy with the experience. While I could focus on my time and let that get me down, I am instead going to focus on the fact that I set out to run my first marathon and that is exactly what I did. To top it off my conditioning plan worked well, as I feel great a few days post race (expect for a few blisters that are already on the mend).
If I do decide to run another full marathon, at least I have some new emotional fuel, and a better race strategy. In the meantime, I’ll be working on sprints to try and get a little faster…
Oh and when your husband offers to meet you along the course with a change of socks and foot powder, take him up on it. I regret not doing that so much, as I thing that one act would have saved me from some pretty big blisters and a lot of pain in the last few miles. One of the few instances I will openly tell my husband that he was right!