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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2015 Ironman 70.3 Eagleman Race Report

Coming into Eagleman this year, I felt like I had probably my best training leading up to a 70.3. I had high hopes of going under 4:45 this year and thought I was in condition to do it. It didn't exaclty work out that way, but despite the worst conditions (heat and humidity wise) I've faced at Eagleman, I still managed to PR, but the sub 4:50 race still remains an elusive goal...

I drove into Cambridge Saturday afternoon, arriving around 3:30 and headed straight to check-in. I was going to have the race bike support crew do a pre-race tune-up, but my roommate for the weekend and Wattie Ink teammate, Jon, said he had the tools and the setup to give my bike a once over himself. He found a minor issue with my cassette and swapped it for one he had and problem solved. We then packed up the bikes in his truck and drove over to rack our bikes at the park. On the way over, we heard the all to familiar sound of a flat coming from one of the bikes. It was mine of course and the awesome people at Tricycle quickly got me a new tube as they were packing up their tent - can't thank them enough and thank God this happened on the way to rack the bike and not when I was ON the bike. After that, we got to the park and racked our bikes. I managed to make it to be an Ironman All World Athlete this year which in turn gave me the benefit of having an AWA bike rack. This was right next to the pros rack which was also directly next to bike out and bike in... Can't complain about that.

Back to the hotel for dinner and a beverage...or two. I didn't mean to have the second one, but the waiter brought it so I had to do my duty. After dinner, back to the room for some last minute pre-race prep and then off to bed. I didn't sleep well as usual, but 4:00 came pretty quickly so I must have dozed here and there. Quick shower, dressed, once over of the gear bag, and ready to roll to the race. Oh yeah, pre-race calories consisted of:

2 Scoops Infinite Mud with about half a flask of EFS Liquidshot Kona Mocha Bagel with natural PB Banana EFS with First Endurance Pre-race and Herbalife24 Prepare 45 mins before start and a PowerBar gel 15 minutes before getting in the water.

We got to the park with plenty of time to spare and also parked pretty close by. Got my transition setup pretty well and mostly mingled about while talking with some friends. Nothing too exciting/out of the ordinary pre-race. As expected, the water was way too warm for wetsuits but at least this year I was prepared for it.

Swim: 34:58 (5th wave/14 AG)
Swim went pretty well. I was hoping to be a bit faster, but felt pretty smooth and easy until the second turn where it got pretty crowded. I knew I was at the front of the wave pretty early and the first few hundred meters was nice and clear. After the second/last turn, I felt like I was being pushed left a bit so was working to get closer to the buoys for much of the return leg. With a couple hundred meters left, it got really shallow and I tried to swim as long as I could throwing in some dolphin dives here and there. Finally it got too shallow to do either so I stood and tried to hustle out of the water as fast as I could. Time was about a minute slower than I wanted, but not too terrible.

T1: 1:02
Flew through T1....felt way too fast and there was probably a reason why. Helmet on, glasses on, grab bike, go. Crossed the mat, and for some reason decided to look down. Still had my f'n swim skin on around my waist. Luckily an aweomse volunteer told me to give it to her, which I did pretty quickly, and I was moving back towards the mount line. Hop on bike, pedal a bit, feet in shoes, and settled in.

Bike: 2:31:10 (Dropped to 16th in AG)
First thing I realized when I got on the bike that another reason transition was so quick is because I forgot my gel flask and salt tabs. Good times. I didn't let this get to me and just made it a point to grab Gatorade and any gels they had on course. I can pretty much stomach anything so even being unsure of what the gels were, I knew I'd be fine if I could get them. I was shooting to average 220 watts on the bike, but for whatever reason, I just didn't have it in me to push that high. I tried for the first 15 miles or so to get up there, but felt like the effort was too much so I backed off a bit and when by feel. I was going faster than last year so that felt good, but I did forget that maybe I had a tailwind to go along with it. Last year the headwinds were early and the tailwinds late. This year it was the opposite, and it showed in my bike. Towards the end of the bike - maybe the last 10-15 miles - it started getting hot. I tried to drink as much water and Gatorade as I could to prep for the run. This ended up being my fastest 70.3 bike split so I'll take it. Was hoping to get under 2:30, but that's what I had on race day. Just wish I had taken an extra few seconds to ensure I had all my nutrition, but also don't think this played a factor in how I performed.

Bike Nutrition: 3-4 bottles of water 2 bottles gatorade 600 calories of various carb mixes in front bottle 2 gels

T2: 1:19
Bike racked (hey, awesome volunteer put my swimskin on my rack! Nice!). Helmet off, shoes, on, grab hat, grab gel flask, grab number, grab salt, grab watch. First thing is I really need to get a new Garmin so I can swim in the damn thing and not have to put a watch on while running. Second, another nutrition mishap - guy runs up behind me as we're leaving T2 and says, "you dropped your gel flask back there." Thanks for telling me...but you couldn't have been nice enough to pick it up for me?? Oh well, I normally have a hard time taking in much during the run in a 70.3. I just don't want anything, but again, I figured I'd grab a couple gels on the course. I ended up having at least one, but can't for the life of me remember if I had another.

Run: 1:42:42 (11th AG)
As I approached mile 1, my hamstring started locking up. Flanny told me that the Base Salts saved his day at Ironman Texas so I grabbed mine and took a lick and then made sure I licked it every mile as directed. Never had another issue. The heat and humidity was the worst I remember it being at Eagleman. It was gross. It felt really tough early on and I was worried my day would unravel quickly. The first couple miles I stayed around a 7:30 pace and I tried to hold it. I grabbed a bit of everything at all the aid stations and just kept moving forward. Nothing too exciting really went on during the run. Just tried to hold it together, which I pretty much did. Had one guy in my sights who I passed early in the run who then re-passed me late. I wanted to keep him close and blow by him on the last mile. Yeah, didn't happen. He picked it up too and ended up beating me by 10 seconds.

Overall I'm pretty pleased with the race. I PR'd with a 4:51:11. 11th in my age group and my highest placing in an IM event. It really was a tough day out there. But I somehow held it together and while I didn't hit my goal, I still PRd so I'll take it.

Big thanks to Wattie Ink, all of the team sponsors and Coach Flanny from Black Dragon Racing for all of his help getting me ready!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Where has the time gone???

Wow, another year is upon us and another Eagleman is coming up. My last post! Crap...really let this thing go. Things have been progressing in the past year and I've had some decent racing along the way. Also proud to say I'm on Team Wattie Ink for the second year. These guys are so freaking aweseom. This years' kits are beyond insane and the crew is probably the best/fastest yet (someone has to be the slowest so might as well be me). As far as races go, Eagleman went pretty well. PR'd the distance so I'll take it. Hopefully this year I'll do it (PR) again. Another two marathons in the books including Boston. And last but not least, I'm gearing up for my first full Ironman. IM Maryland on October 3rd of this year. Just wanted to pop in real quick as I'm 2.5 weeks out from Eagleman. I'll come back in the next week or so with some goals for the race. Hopefully it will be a great one!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Race Week! Almost Time to Rock!!!

Well, I've been off the grid since Florida 70.3 but figured I'd write some thoughts down as I get close to Eagleman (4 days). I'm feeling good, although nervous...very nervous. I've once again got big goals for myself. Whether or not I can get there remains to be seen. I never know until race day, but I'm feeling good. I'm pretty sure I've never come close to the amount of bike training I've done leading up to this race. I raced well (for me) at Florida and I'm really hoping to carry that over to Eagleman. No hills to crush me, so let's hope the wind stays down and the heat isn't too bad...and that the water is under 76.1! Shooting for a 4:45. Going to have to give it everything I've got, but I KNOW I can do it if I'm smart and mentally tough. 4:45 is my big goal and hitting it would be epic. But at the minimum, a PR is what I'm after. As long as I can avoid mechanical mishaps and don't absolute crush myself on the bike, there's no reason that shouldn't happen. We'll see what happens on Sunday, but I'm feeling nervous, but GOOD! A few more workouts and then it's go time! RocktheW!

Friday, April 18, 2014

2014 Ironman 70.3 Florida Race Report

Another race is in the books. A good early season race and a good test at current fitness levels. I had a couple big goals heading into this race that I spoke about in my previous post. Big, under 4:50. Small, under 5:00.

I drove down to Florida (from Maryland) on Friday. A long 12.5 hours later (thank you book on disc!), I arrived at my dad's house in The Villages. He's about 90 minutes north of Haines City (the race site) so it was an easy choice for lodging. Maybe not as close as I'd prefer, but close enough and the price was right. Talked with my dad for a bit and started unpacking and finally headed to bed around 11. A bit late, but without the family along, there was no worrying about getting woken up too early. Of course it meant little as I was still up before 7:00, but all in all, I had a good night's sleep.

Saturday I had a decent breakfast and did a quick 25 minute ride or so around my dad's neighborhood. The bike seemed to be working as expected and gears were changing very well (thank you to Travis from Just Riding Along Bicyles for the quick tuneup on Friday morning before I headed out (needed a couple adjustments for my new, sick, custom Wattie Ink. Reynolds wheels (72/90 aero for those interested). Everything seemed to be in order and I was feeling good. A quick shower and then we headed down to Haines City. A quick look over the event timetable let me know that I couldn't rack my bike until 2:00 so nothing to pack and an easy trip down to check-in.

Rolled down, checked in, quick check of the swim course and transition area, and we headed back home. After getting home, I went for an easy swim and then a lazy afternoon snoozing/watching the Masters. We then went for an early dinner (Italian...go figure), back home, pack the car, and in bed before 9. Hurry up to get to bed in order to lay awake most of the night. How I manage to perform with so little sleep is beyond me, but I've done it before and I'll do it again...

I set the alarm for a bit after 3:00 but was out of bed and in the shower before 3:00. I quickly downed Personal Best Nutrition's breakfast cocktail of Infinit MUD plus half a flask of EFS Kona Mocha Liquid Gel. I have ZERO appeitite pre-race so liquid nutrition makes things easy for me. I followed that up with some coffee and a banana...and a bagel I munched on in transition pre-race (oh and a bottle of 2 scoops EFS and 1 scoop First Endurance PreRace). I drove down to Haines City and easily found a spot a block away from the park. Got the bike out of the car, pumped the tires one last time, and pushed my way into transition past all the people getting body-marked - this turned out to be a GREAT move as after I racked my bike and walked out of transition to use the bathroom, I found a lovely young lady with no one to mark. The line for marking ended up being about 100 meters long (probably the one thing that wasn't done very well at the race pre/during/post).

As is always the case, the two hours I had after getting to the race quickly flew by and it was time to get the wetsuit on (yes! Wetsuit legal!). I found/met some Wattie teammates and we chatted for a bit (some of these guys killed it! 3 podiums if I recall correctly (out of 6 racing I believe...)! I then hit the bathroom one more time and as is my custom, I was last in the water for my wave.

SWIM: 32:47, 1:41/100m, 22nd AG

I found my way to the front of the line quickly and tried to relax for the 2 minutes I had before the gun. We had a pretty big group in my wave (40-44 A-K) and I'm always amazed at how many guys start so far off the straightest line. My assumption is these are guys that aren't strong swimmers and prefer not to get into the mess. The gun went off and I had a clean line. Very little contact. I was quickly towards the front of my group and just tried to swim fairly relaxed and let my swim experience take over (I'm sure I lean WAY too much on this and there's no excuse for me not to be faster other than swimming more and making sure I actually get my swim workouts in!). The swim course is advertised as an "M" shape as in "M-Dot" and they attempt to use this as a marketing strategy I guess. All this does is make the turns a cluster-fuck. With only four minutes between waves, those of us out front quickly hit the previous wave (before the first turn). This would continue throughout the swim as I swam on, I would see new colored caps. The turns were hectic and crowded, but I worked my way around them fairly easily. I made the final turn and headed for home. A few dolphin dives near the finish and up and running out of the water. I was thinking I'd be around 30 minutes, but was a bit disappointed to see 32 and change on the watch. A couple minutes behind what I was hoping for, but not too concerned. I had a bit of trouble finding my wetsuit strap so that became a bit frustrating, but eventually found it and started stripping it off (no wetsuit strippers) before I got to my bike. I moved slower than I wanted in transition (2:46), but eventually got my wetsuit off, gels in pockets, and moved out of transition. As I arrived at transition I had a great fan in attendance...my dad! I knew he'd be there, but I figured he wouldn't make it in time for the swim. He gave me a shout of encouragement and I was off with my bike.

BIKE: 2:38:13, 21.24 mph, dropped 30 spots to 52nd in AG

As I took off on my bike, it took me a bit to get my shoes on, but nothing that really slowed me down. Getting out onto the course, there were quite a few turns so not too much of a chance to start cruising right away, but before long, I was down and aero and started cranking. I was hoping for a sub 2:35 on the bike and during the first half of the ride it seemed as though this could be a possibility. The first 20-25 miles I was cruising at a good clip and knocking the miles off quickly. I have my Garmin setup for five minute splits and I was hitting these in about 13:30 give or take. From mile 35-45, these laps turned into the low 15 minutes. I was losing time. Hills, headwind, and perhaps not pushing it hard enough in training started to take it's toll. I started cramping a bit towards the end of the ride so I popped a S-Cap. I think that helped a bit and before long, I was heading home and into transition. Just as we ended the bike, Wattie Teammate Andrew Hibbitt came flying by. He crushed the bike and he told me his goal was to catch me. Mission accomplished. We headed into transition, feet were out of shoes, hit dismount line, and ran to my rack. Waiting there was my dad again with a nice pick me up. Bike up, helmet off, shoes on, run nutrition, hat, Garmin, and GO! T2 time 2:01. Not too bad and my dad was impressed as he gave me a "great transition" as I headed out. Highlight of the bike, I got to watch a bald eagle fly above me for a minute. It was maybe 20 feet overhead. Seriously one of the coolest things I've ever seen.

Bike nutrition: 1 EFS liquid shot flask, 1 PowerBar Gel (mocha 2X caffeine), salt tab (should have taken probably 2 more), water, and a few swigs of Perform at the aid stations.

RUN: 1:43:08, 7:52/mile, moved up 14 spots to finish 38 in AG

As I ran out of transition, I realized I left my heart rate monitor on. I hate running with it and I knew this run would be tough so didn't want to keep anything that would affect me in any way on. I pulled it off and dropped it over the side of the fence near a tree to hopefully know where to get it post race (and it was there after...a little dirty, but there). I got my Garmin on (I really need to upgrade to the 910 XT so I don't have to keep doing this...) and was running under 7:30 pace. This is normal to run faster than I plan for the first mile. I felt pretty good and rolled on. As you leave the park, you have to run up a hill. Oh...this is the hill I heard about? No problem. Ran up and over and back down easily and ran on. A couple turns later I realize that no, that was not the hill, so this must be the hill. Definitely bigger than the first, but I've seen worse. Up and over this hill and I'm thinking to myself that hill wasn't too bad, but shortly thereafter, we hit the big hill. It was definitely bigger than I expected. It hurt, but I made it up without walking and ran on. I tried to hit every aid station for water, perform, ice, and after a few miles, Coke. After the hills, I knew the run was going to suck. It felt hard. And it was getting hot. Not as hot as Eagleman has been in the past, but considering I ran the week before in 38 degree weather, 84/85 is HOT. I did my best to dump ice down my shorts, top, and in my hat and this seemed to help keep me from overheating too bad. The course is a three loop course and after the first loop, I hit the mat in about 33 minutes. Decent pace, IF I can keep it up. Unfortunately, despite cheers from my dad, and fellow Wattie's Colleen and Bryan, I was hitting the wall in lap 2. It sucked. I knew the hills were coming and I was hurting. I started getting some coke and was hoping this would pick me up. I got the hills out of the way, still running, so at the very least I knew I only had those one more time. I tried to let gravity do it's work on the back sides and tried to keep the pace up. Lap 2 I was averaging over 8 minute miles so I was not where I wanted or needed to be for my goals. After the swim and bike, my big goal was out the window, but my sub 5 goal was still alive. It wasn't a given, but it was still there. Towards the end of lap 2, my head started playing games with me though. I began having negative thoughts. You can't do it...you won't hit your goal...you don't have it in you today...that type of thing. I was letting it get to me and figured maybe I don't have it today. I can walk the hills the final lap. I'll still probably PR, even if I don't hit my goal. A quick pick me up from my dad who reminded me he had a cold beer waiting for me at the finish really helped. The cheering certainly helped and soon, I went into the tank, and thought about what my boy/coach/teammate Flanny had said to me... He told me there will be times where I'll be in a bad place mentally and that's where I needed to dig and find a way to turn my shit around. And you know what? I did that. I fucking dug deep. I had to if I was even going to have a chance. I know sub 5:00 isn't super fast, but it was a big goal for me. I told myself to get over that last set of hills, assess where I am, and figure out a plan to make it happen. So lap 3 starts and the pace isn't great. I'm not mentally where I need to be yet, but I'm getting there. One hill at a time. First hill is easy...hell, it's not really a hill, let's be honest, but in my mind it was the first of 3. Each progressively tougher than the last. One down, two to go. Next one...this sucks, but passing a shit load of people who are all walking. Good mental boost. I'm running, they're not. You've got this. One at a time. Second hill done. Hill three...keep going. Once again, tons of walkers, and the mental boost is much needed. Running strong-ish. Hill three DONE. HILLS DONE. Downhill from here. What are you made of Owen? I pulled out all of the stops. I thought about my wife and daughters following along online. They knew it'd be close, I knew it would be close. With about three miles left I knew I needed to average about an 8 minute mile to get there. I still wasn't sure I could do it. Two miles left...still just needed about 8 minutes per (and I KNEW I'd make up some ground in the last mile/half mile/quarter mile. Mile 12...one mile to go. You've got this. I ran about a 7:15 the final mile...turned towards the finish through the chute and BOOM! I did it. Hell, with plenty of time to spare! 4:58:55. I'll take it! I thought I was MUCH closer to 5:00 than I ended up being. Nonetheless, I'm glad I was able to pick it up (just realized miles 11 and 12 were not great as I look at my splits...yuck).

Finish: 4:58:55

Big thanks to all of my sponsors and supporters! First my girls and my wife! I couldn't do any of this without them and I want to be an inspiration to my little ones and show them that if they want to do something, they should go for it. My wife is always an inspiration. She just hit a huge goal of hers at the Shamrock Marathon - breaking 3:00- and she beat that by over a minute too. She TRULY kicks ass. My dad, for the lodging, food, support, and BEER!

Sean Watkins and Wattie Ink! I feel privelaged to be part of something so awesome yet not worthy based on the caliber of all the other athletes on the team! There are some SERIOUSLY fast people on this team. They all kick ass though! Each and every one of them and I was lucky enough to meet a few of them this weekend in person for the first time. Colleen and Bryan especially...just supporting all of us racing. It was awesome having you all out there.

Team sponsors: Reynolds kick ass wheels! PowerBar, awesome nutrition! ISM, my ass feels great post-race! Speedfil, I stayed aero almost the whole race! And the rest of our sponsors who help keep this team running smoothly!

And finally thanks to Flanny, Wattie Teammate and Head Coach at Central Virginia Endurance/Black Dragon Racing for helping me get ready to race!

Brian at Personal Best Nutrition for great customer service and helping me make sure I get any nutritional/race day needs taken care of in time. And Travis from JRABS for helping this non-mechanical dummy keep his bike running smoothly on race day!

So what's next? Eagleman, June 8, 2014. See you there!


Friday, April 4, 2014

Countdown to Florida 70.3

So here I am...one week before I make the long drive down to Florida for my first triathlon of the year. It's also the first race I can really represent my new team...Wattie Ink and all of our sponsors. What a kickass group these guys are! I feel very lucky to be a part of this crew. Hopefully I can do them justice and not embarrass them or myself at Florida.

I will say that for the most part, my training has been as good as it has ever been leading up to a tri. Flanny (Black Dragon Racing/Central Virginia Endurance) has given me great advice and great workouts leading up to this. About a month ago, I ran the Shamrock Half Marathon and used this as a test to see where I am. I was shooting for a sub 1:29 (previous PR was 1:29:20), but Saturday night pre-race, Flanny told me to go for 1:27. This was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I said F it and decided to go for it. Ultimately, I missed getting a 1:27, but still had a nice PR of 1:28:09. I doubt I would have been that close to 1:27 had Flanny not given me that goal. Maybe I could have found 10 seconds somewhere on the course, but I think that was pretty close to all I had that day. With all of that said, it helped boost my confidence as I continued to prep towards Florida.

The only portion of the race that may be of concern is the swim. As in previous years, I've allowed myself to slip and miss some swims along the way. Two-a-days have been tough for me. My wife is prepping for Boston (oh and she only ran a 2:58 at Shamrock - 7th woman, 2nd masters - to former Ironman 70.3 champ Joanna Zeiger...not bad...) so trying to actually spend time with the family and train I've allowed myself to miss a swim here and there. That said, my biking and running have been on point for the most part. As long as I don't die in the swim, I'm excited to see how I'll perform.

With all of that said, I wanted to lay out my goals for the race. First/small goal is to PR the distance and go under 5 hours. As long as I avoid mechanical issues/flats like I dealt with at Raleigh, there's no reason why I CAN'T do this.

Bigger Goal: Sub 4:50. This might be a stretch, but I'm going for it. Broken down as follows:

Swim: 30:00
Bike: 2:35:00
Run: 1:38:00
Transition: 6:00

This puts me at 4:49. I'd definitey be pleased with that! There are no guarantees, but I'm going for it.

Bib # 1156. Start time 7:26 AM.

BOOM! #rocktheW

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


A bit late in the notice, but it's official! 2014 Wattie Ink Elite Team! Couldn't be more pumped for this year. Gotta work hard to be somewhat respectable with this incredible group of athletes (someone has to be the slowest, right?). More to come, but wanted to get this up real quick! Check out some of our kick ass sponsors too!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2013 Marine Corps Marathon Race Report - Marathon #9 in the Books!

So the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon has come and gone.  My last "big" race of the year so now it's time to back off a bit...just for a bit...and then head into triathlon training.

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.

2013 MCM: 3:16:43

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).