Monday, October 26, 2009

Marine Corps Marathon

I'll give you the end and then if you feel necessary, you may read the entire schpiel. Good day. 3:10:17. PR by 28 minutes. Boston Qualifier. Stoked.

I woke up race day at my girlfriend's parents house because they lived about a half mile from where the shuttles would take the runners from Crystal City to the starting line. I ran down there partially because I wanted to get a warm up run in, and partially because it was in the low 50's and being the genius I am, didn't take that into account when I forgot a throw-away long sleeve for the morning. The shuttle brought us to the starting area where there were tents, "Johns," and hot chocolate for sale. Since I hadn't planned on running with anyone I was walking around trying to find a windless spot so I could try to conserve any type of body heat.

Then I saw Mark Guzzi, the Tuesday night speed work guru and Sam walking around. I wasn't expecting to see either of them so it was a very pleasant surprise. Plus, Mark had an extra long sleeve I could borrow for the time being...also, very welcomed.

After about 30 min we made our way to the start line where people were packing it in and doing last minute shoe checks, gel counts, and saying prayers. Mark decided he would go for the mid 3:teens and told me if I was going to go for 3:10 I should stand near the front to avoid the crowds and can get a decent start so I don't have to play catch up when I was tired. I tried to find the 3:10 balloon guy, but couldn't. I was going it solo. The starting temperature was perfect. Cool in the shade and warm in the sun. I had a good start and could really only check my times every mile to make sure I was on track. The first 5 miles I did in the low 7's and high 6's. I felt good, and strong, and light on my feet.

Around mile 11 I saw a guy with a VCU Massey Cancer Center shirt on. I told him I recognized him from coming to the gym, and told him I worked there. He introduced himself as Drew and picked up the pace just enough for me to get uncomfortable, and I decided not to follow this early in the race. A guy that happened to be around us was also from Richmond. He introduced himself as Ryan, and then asked me if my name was "Mc...McNamara?...No..Mc-something" I told him my name and he said he recognized me from the article in the Richmond Road Runners magazine. He was really cool and it was good to run with him. We passed the halfway point in about 1:30-ish which was the fastest I had done a half marathon by about 15 minutes. I was still on track to finish on time. It was great to run with him, and he said he would try and help as much as he could. Running with him helped me stay on track, and it really made many of the miles between 11 and 20 much easier. I ran with Ryan until about mile 20 when we reached the bridge. Just prior to that they were giving out sports beans, so I gladly accepted the offering and immediately felt a pick up. Luckily I saw my family just before the bridge, ditched the shirt and hand bottle. And picked up the pace a bit.

I remembered the bridge as the section that I crashed on last year. This year, I felt strong going over the spectator-less section. Toward the end of the bridge/highway section, the 3:10 balloon caught up. I stuck with him until about mile 24. He was still in sight, but I could feel the effect of the quicker pace start to take a toll on my stomach.

Reaching mile 26 I saw Drew up ahead as he turned to go up the last hill to the finish. A few quick words were replaced by a struggling pace for the last 50 yards or so. The clock read 3:10:20, my chip time was 3:10:17. Afterwards I got pretty sick, possibly the combination of gels, mild dehydration, and the quick pace.

I found my family and went to eat for my Mom's birthday which was a great ending to the day. Plus, there was carrot cake.

There might be pictures later.

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