The weather was perfect for MCM this year. Low 40s at the start and never got very warm up til the end. Too bad we didn't have this weather three weeks ago at Wineglass. But since Wineglass had been my focus, post Wineglass I only managed to squeeze in four runs total in the next 3 weeks. Wow, that's pretty sad/lazy. All said though, I'm pleased with my performance at MCM. It was a MCM PR so I can't complain too much. This was my fourth one and I've PR'd each (well maybe the first one doesn't count since it was my first marathon.
Pre-Race Up at 4:20, quick breakfast of Infinit Mud with EFS Liquid Shot and some coffee. Dressed, ready to go and out the door about 5. We once again went to the MCRRC Hospitality Suite at the Holiday Inn in Rosslyn (about a mile from the start). This is always key pre-Marine Corps Marathon. We can meet up with others in our running club and get all prepped and just leave our stuff there instead of worrying about checking our gear. We got there and parked by 6 (after a bit of a detour due to street closings, but nothing that delayed us too bad) and we were headed to the start by 7. I sipped on EFS with First Endurance Pre-Race as we headed to the start. Hit a porta-potty and made our way to the starting line with about 10 minutes to spare. With a couple minutes to go before the Howitzer, I took off the trash bag and last years Tyvek jacket, gave Chrissy a good luck kiss, and got ready to roll.
The gun went off at 8:00 so five minutes late, but no biggy. I was running with my buddy Brad and we were rolling along at about a 7:20 pace. Through the first three miles or so I wasn't feeling great and thought it had the potential to be a long day. But as we headed to mile 4 and towards the turn onto the Key Bridge, my breathing felt easier and I felt pretty good (the downhill definitely helps). The course was a bit different this year so it was nice to look forward to something new (from about 4.5 to 9.5 the course made it's way up the Rock Creek Parkway then back to the same course as the last few years for the remainder of the race). We headed through Georgetown (one of the best spots with great spectators...although it wasn't quite as busy this year) and soon after I got to see my girls and in-laws. Always a great sight! I kissed the girls and dropped my gloves and hat and I was back at it. Unfortunately at this point I knew I wouldn't see them again for another 12 miles. No worries, Brad and I kept rolling and we soon were on our way up Rock Creek. We run this on our Saturday long runs quite a bit, but from the paved path off the road. It's kind of funny how different it looks on the road. As we approached the turn around, I got my first glimpse of Chrissy as she was coming back down Rock Creek and she looked great (as usual). I was hoping she'd score the Master's win this year, but "only" got third with a 3:04 (not bad 3 weeks after a 3:02 at Wineglass). Finally to the turn around and heading back towards mile 8...um...where's mile 8? Maybe no sign...I'll hit it here (watch says 8.06 so that works). Another tenth of a mile down the road, FINALLY the mile 8 sign. Not sure what happened there (I think mile 19 was short so I wasn't too far off on my Garmin - .14 over 26.2 so not bad). Soon after we got a nice surprise - the family was out there again! Somewhere around 9.5-10 or so. So now I just had to get around Hains Point and I'd get to see them again.
Brad and I reached the halfway park just under 3:15 pace. I wasn't sure if I had a 3:15 in me or not, but I felt much better at this point than I did at the same point last year. Unfortunately soon after the halway mark, Brad started falling off. By the time we were out of Hains Point and towards the mall he had fallen back a bit. Soon after you leave Hains Point, there's an out and back section and I was hoping I'd catch Chrissy. Sure enough I did and gave her a yell. I made my way through the out and back and had her about 6.5 minutes ahead of me. She looked strong too.
I made my way to the mall knowing at about 17.5 I'd see the girls and in-laws again. Definitely helps with the motivation. And sure enough, right around 17.5 or so there they were. A few more high fives and knowing I'd get to see them in about 15 more minutes on the other side of the mall. The next two went quick and I remember seeing the family at the same point last year and feeling pretty bad. I felt much better Sunday and gave the girls another kiss for the last time I'd see them during the race. That helped keep me moving to my least favorite stretch of the race - the 14th St bridge and Crystal City. The crowds thin considerably at this point and the bridge is just really long. I worked my way through these two sections and this is when things just got tough. Miles 24 and 25 were just really hard for me. My calves were already feeling beat up and my hamstrings started flaring up feeling as though they could cramp at any point. I managed through them, dropping to about an 8 minute pace and with about 3/4 mile to go, a friend of ours we run with, Greg, came by and helped boost me to the finish. I picked up the pace, got to the "Hill" and got to the finish line. Not too long after I saw Chrissy waiting for me and was happy to hear how well she did.
Another Marine Corps Marathon in the books. Yeah, I'm sure we'll be back again next year (that is IF we make it in via the lottery).