Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap – my FIRST 26.2!

26.2 miles = 42.2 kilometers = A Marathon = what a journey!

 

A Marathon was something I never, ever, EVER thought I’d see myself running…finishing…relishing in as an accomplishment… but is something that I completed for the first time this past Sunday!Putting together this race recap had me think back to when I wrote my first half marathon race recap. The feelings I felt then…the walls that I hit…but on a larger scale for sure (I may have giggled that my ‘old wall’ mile was 4.) So much to squish into thoughts in writing is tough but I’ll give it a go!

 

Race morning, I popped out of bed around 4am. I slept, but restlessly. I had been stressing quite a bit leading up to the day from traveling from Florida… add to that, having some sort of cold bug for the past week, to having shin pain being covered up by prednisone to get me through the big day. Fear of the unknown kept my mind going. My cousin, who we were staying & spending time with, was up early too. He’d run the race last year and kept telling me I trained well, not to worry! Easier said than done 😉 My cousin, G, and I headed to Bethesda to grab the Metro and then head into Rosslyn from there. I only had one snafu – I forgot my Garmin 10 minutes down the road and we turned around to grab it.

We got to the Runner’s Village in time to sneak into the Runner’s World port-o-potties (their Challenge peeps left – cha-ching!) and the opening ceremony sky dive. My emotions started to kick in even more! Seeing service men and women and all of the runners everywhere brought on a lot of pride for our country and to run this race for them!
In my comfy Goodwill throwaways
I broke the race [in my head] into 10ks, so I’ll stick with that for recap purposes 😉 In typical Kat-fashion, I tried to remember as much detail as I could. I didn’t take on-course photos though, seemed too much for me to think about. So, grab a hot cup of chai for this puppy – I tried to capture how I felt through the entire race – the good, the bad, the ugly – it was my first marathon after all.

 

Miles 1-6: 10k pace OA 10:15 – As I said “see you later” to my family, I realized I’d left my handheld with my cousin that also had my inhaler in the pocket. Oh no, not again! I tried to go back and find them but the start line was a mad house and there was no turning back. I remembered we’d planned to see each other at miles 6 & 9 in Georgetown, 16 & 19 at the National Mall, and at the finish of course. So, I was okay going an hour without it. I made my way as close as I could to the 4:30 pace group area (not knowing this is the largest pace group of all) & remembered to start easy, advise given from me from not only my coach but many other friends and past marathoners. To back up a bit I’d set a lofty goal of finishing in 4:15. Welp, with recent injuries and legs feeling exhausted I tried to aim for a more attainable goal … one I wouldn’t kill myself too much over. Bart told me so 😉 I also said to myself that I’d cruise through each water stop since I’d been used to breaks on long runs and hadn’t run anything as long as 26.2 miles consistently before yet.
The moment the howitzer went off and we made our way, group by group, to the starting archway I made sure to enjoy every moment – looking around at all of the spectators and signs of encouragement. There were SO many spectators and runners around me. It was all very overwhelming, so it kept my mind off of the “Hills of Rosslyn” throughout mile 4 or so by focusing on everything around me. A moment I remember from this portion of the race was when we saw 2 wheelchair athletes pushing hard up the first steep hill. A few of us kept running along side of them to cheer and push them on. Priceless – this showed the true heart of racers for sure. We crossed into Georgetown around Mile 5, I was still feeling great and breathing okay. I love Georgetown – the Exorcist stairs and M street are favorite visiting points of mine! When we looped around K Street back onto the Potomac Highway for out first out and back, I was excited to find my cousin & G easier than I expected!
Miles 6-12: 20k pace OA 10:09 – By now, I felt warmed up and settled into a slightly faster pace, still keeping it semi-easy. G spotted me and he got my cousin to hand me my handheld & inhaler, so I stopped quickly to take a puff and head out knowing I’d see them in a few miles. Throughout the first 10 miles I felt like I was dodging people left and right. People stopped to walk right in front of me and I was not running tangents very well. I felt okay going easy because I really couldn’t squeeze past the 4:30 group no matter how hard I tried even if I wanted to – these guys were like a pack of runner wolves! Seeing some of the other runners come back at the turnaround gave me a boost – I cheered them on and high-fived those that I could. I started to get really thirsty for some reason and was happy to have my handheld with me. I decided I’d cruise through each water stop, taking sips throughout the race (which I did.) After Mile 9, I kissed my hubby (thankfully was able to find these guys every time – my only thought was that we should have committed to being on a certain side of the road beforehand) and headed back onto the Potomac Highway going into Hains Point. My cousin told me to expect this part to be boring and quiet. Point taken, as he was spot on.
Miles 13-18: 30k pace OA 10:09 – A highlight of Hains point was when I saw pictures and names of fallen soldiers. It gave me more to think about and pray about as I enjoyed some quieter times. I was still using my “dedicated miles” to reflect and think of others, so this was an added bonus. Through mile 15, there wasn’t a lot going on until we heard spectators right at the end of this solemn part of the course – I knew we were heading into the National Mall, my favorite area! Despite that, I hit my first “wall” at mile 15. Hard. I walked a bit and felt like my feet hurt, my mind hurt. I started to struggle a bit. I started to miss having someone to run with, but knew I had to get through this race on my own. I looked around and tried to soak in the monuments…seeing the MLK monument for the first time gave me a nudge. I tried to remember that I chose this journey. I met a lady named Mary who I decided to talk with for a bit – I’m not one who’s shy about sparking a conversation with fellow runners if the timing’s right. She was running her 4th marathon, 2nd MCM, and had just qualified for Boston. She started running in her 60s. I asked her why she does marathons – she said she likes to keep fit while her husband’s away and gets a rush from it. She helped me through when I was drudging through negative thoughts. We saw each other off and on throughout the race, and I’m glad we did. I saw my husband G and told him I couldn’t stop being thirsty – he grabbed water for me and told me that it was going to be okay. Seeing my family helped me through that tough spot and I moved on focusing on getting to mile 18 and then 20 – before the last 10k to the finish. I smiled as I started to look around and enjoy all of the monuments and museums around me!
Don’t ask me where this energy came from
Miles 19-24: 40k pace OA 10:27 – This part of the race was my worst. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I never sugarcoat anything do I? Nothing out of the ordinary, I’m sure, from what I’ve heard from others’ first-time experiences. I ended up seeing Lisa right at the Bridge – which we both “beat.” It was a welcome surprise to see a runner I knew, finally. From the start up until this point, I didn’t run into one runner that I knew – crazy! I wanted to stay with her at a steady 9:35 pace to try to hit my goal as closely as I could – that was around the race pace I’d trained for. She definitely woke me up out of my runner-coma. I tried, but couldn’t quite shake it. So I told her I needed another walk break, she went ahead & reminded me to finish strong. The sun started to beam down on us. I started to feel my left shin starting to hurt now. I think it ended up going numb after the midpoint of the race and I pushed through it with all of the adrenaline I had in me, but now I felt it big time. I even started to hobble a bit and reminded myself to at least use proper form! I looked down at the names I’d written on my hand…I prayed for God to give me the strength to finish…There were so many people I thought of who’d been through more than this! Almost instantaneously I saw we were coming back up to Pentagon City so I knew the end was near!
Miles 24- 26.6 Finish: overall pace 10:29 – I ran into Mary again! She was running intervals so we kept seeing each other off and on still. She’d found a buddy (which she recommended I do at mile 20, but I was in a dark place and couldn’t stick with Lisa) and the 3 of us chatted a bit through the miles. By Mile 25 Mary’s friend went on and she told me we were finishing this – she needed me as much as I needed her, she said. She continued her intervals and I tried to just scoot along. I felt blisters somewhere and knew I had a toenail coming off, but didn’t care. I pushed my hardest and heard spectators leading up to the Iwo Jima memorial. I looked at my Garmin, knowing I’d already run .50  miles past the distance – Oops, darn all of that zig-zagging! The battery was about to die too! Scooting happened for the last parts of the race – a tad slower than jogging by my definition. Then, I saw it – the finish line arch! I pushed as hard as I could to get to that finish line! …. And just like that, it was done! I’d FINISHED THE MARINE CORPS MARATHON! We all felt a little cattle-like as we made our way to get our medals and finisher photos. I chatted with Mary a bit more and got her info to keep in touch – I told her she was definitely a race angel for me that day 😉
Me with Mary at the finish
Official finish time: 4:35:02
After a bit of a hike and collecting refreshments and snacks, I found my cousin … and then found G … and then cried as I hugged him. My journey was done – for now anyway. All of the hard work I’d put in – him by my side for most of it  – was brought to a close on this day and at this moment. The medal around my neck signified not just the completion of a race, but the fact that I did something that most people haven’t done and won’t do and never thought I WOULD do. I’d had good and bad training runs…learned SO much about myself and what I’m capable of. I pushed through injuries and negative moments. I’d grown closer to my husband when he was up early with me to help me train while he recovered from injury himself. All of that started to well in my chest when I cried on his shoulder. He told me he was proud of me – which is the best thing you can ever hear from the one you love.
Mission Accomplished.
 
* To boot, my team that ran Marine Corps for the Little Things for Cancer raised over $31, 000 for our charity! WHOA! Thank you to all of you who helped me fundraise! *
(end of the emotional segment of this recap 😉
The line to get back onto the Metro was HUGE, so we decided to take a cab back to Bethesda instead. I was so tired as we walked and walked. I snacked on free watermelon someone handed us. All of the finishers were congratulating each other along the street – that was pretty awesome.
Our cabbie was so nice. He offered water and congratulations, but I opted for a nap instead.
Yup. Said nap.
For now, I focus on relaxing and recouping and eating what I want within reason before I start the Grain Brain challenge Friday (I should have started Monday but wanted to be able to refuel a bit before starting something ‘new!)
Again, THANK YOU for all of your support, well wishes, congratulations, and LOVE!
This blog has been a huge source of accountability for me to finish what I start for sure!
Next up, I work on getting my diet back in check post-marathon, finish some fitness certifications I’ve needed to get done & tackle more related to personal training, then head to Vegas with G to complete his FIRST half marathon in a few weeks!
This isn’t the end of my journey, just of my First Marathon… my Marine Corps Marathon journey 😉 This is a recap of the race itself, I plan to also put together thoughts on the highs and lows of marathon training and answer the question people have asked me already: “Would you do another one?”

Did you go through the same wave of ups and downs in your first marathon?

What did you learn about your journey about yourself?

 

HI! I'M KAT - I am a pug-mom, wife, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, & Fitness Coach focusing on living the fit life while tackling work, coaching others - doing it all! My blog is to hold me accountable for all the goals I plan on accomplishing and also a way for me to try to inspire others through my own experiences - if I can do it ANYONE can! Fitness is a huge part of my life as well as travel and seeing all that life has to be lived! PAY IT FORWARD!

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91 Comments
  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 11:58 am

    I love social media for the very fact we could experience this all right along side you.
    since I will never run a marathon—it’s such a cool thing.

    • Reply
      October 30, 2013, 12:07 pm

      Thanks for the support online too – it’s just as effective!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 12:05 pm

    LOVE this! Can’t wait to see your thoughts on marathon training in general. Also very interested to see if you are a ‘one and done’ or if this is just the beginning 😉

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 12:06 pm

    What a great story Kat! Bummed I never saw you over the weekend, but so happy you had a good time! And YOU’RE A MARATHONER!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😀 Amazing accomplishment! Hope your legs are starting to feel normal again. -C

    • Reply
      October 30, 2013, 12:08 pm

      You too Christine! I’m getting there – the shin isn’t happy still but taking it easy all week 😉 Hope you don’t have stairs at home 😉

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 12:07 pm

    Congrats on a great finish to your first marathon. I used runner tracking to watch you and others race on Sunday so I knew about your struggle at the end. A marathon is such a hard race with mental and physical challenges the whole way and you handled it so well on your first try. Interesting about the 4:30 pace group. I would have thought the leader would keep his wolves in check! Enjoy the rest and recovery, because you will probably come up with another big challenge for yourself in the future! Congrats again on a job well done!

    • Reply
      October 30, 2013, 12:13 pm

      Thanks Pam! haha love how you ladies post back to back and I can tell who’s who! Thanks for your cheers and support through #1!!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 12:36 pm

    Congrats on a great 1st marathon- the ups and downs during the race are definitely normal during first, second and whatever marathon. Celebrate- you worked hard for this!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 12:48 pm

    YOU ROCKED IT GIRL!!!!! Hope I feel as good as you come Sunday! EEP!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 12:55 pm

    Congratulations girl!!! Not easy but you did it!!! Way to stick with it and get it done. You’ve got to be so proud right now!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 12:57 pm

    Soooo proud of you Kat! There’s nothing like your first 26.2! It’s a journey you will remember forever! I was tracking you the whole way and when I got the text saying you had finished I was soooo happy for you! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on doing another one! 😉

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 1:20 pm

    I am sooooooo proud of you! Love the recap! I cant imagine how u must be feeling after that, but you should be so pleased w yourself!!! Relish every second!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 1:30 pm

    I am so, so proud of you! You did amazing! You trained hard and I think had a great race. Enjoy the marathon high for now. 🙂 Congrats!!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 1:46 pm

    Very proud of you and happy for you! You ran a really nice, consistent pace throughout. Those marathon highs and lows? Happen every single time. It’s the nature of the beast!

    • Reply
      October 30, 2013, 3:41 pm

      Thanks coach! I know I scooted to that finish the best I could!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 1:55 pm

    Loved your recap – the honesty and real emotions spring off the page!! Hooray – you did it even with the pain!!!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 2:52 pm

    Yay! Great job!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 2:54 pm

    I got teary eyed while reading this!! SO PROUD OF YOU!!!! You are such an inspiration and truly amazing Kat! Congrats again! xoxo

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 2:59 pm

    Congratulations Kat!! I’m so happy and proud of you!! Training for, running and finishing a marathon is such a humbling experience but so amazing. It will definitely take you to various highs and lows! Can’t wait to hear about the next one 🙂

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 3:05 pm

    So very happy for you. What a wonderful feeling of accomplishment! Congratulations!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 3:09 pm

    Congrats on your first marathon Kat! It brings back a lot of thoughts reading this and makes me excited for #2! I’ve heard #2 is a lot different because you know what to expect. I’m excited to see what your next goals are. You did a really impressive job keeping your pace the same overall.

    • Reply
      October 30, 2013, 3:42 pm

      haha, so funny how I think differently today than I did the day of! Thanks Meghan!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 3:15 pm

    SO stinkin proud of you! And so sad I missed you! (We can blame Nick for running so fast.) You did amazing and I have loved every second of following your journey. Now enjoy this rest week, you earned the hell out of it!! (P.S. I always feel poopy during miles 13-15 for some odd reason.)

    • Reply
      October 30, 2013, 3:43 pm

      Thanks Beth! We all know what happened for you at DIsney though! 😉

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 3:17 pm

    P.S. My first marathon was a 5:17. I’m pretty sure you are the woman!!!!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 3:52 pm

    My first marathon was odd…it was so wonderful I refused to do another one for years. Yup true story. I was giggling the whole way, now since then I’ve had a few where I went through the OMG everything hurts what I am doing moments to the hallelujah life is grand 🙂

    You had an amazing round of training and I know if you choose to do another you will absolutely crush your time because you were killing it in training. Congrats on an AMAZING first marathon and pushing through!

    • Reply
      October 30, 2013, 5:01 pm

      So, that should be the plan right? Wait a couple of years – perfect Amanda! Thank you 😉

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 3:59 pm

    Congrats on your first marathon! You’ve totally inspried me through my half marathon training. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 4:02 pm

    Congrats, Kat!!!!! You’re awesome and inspiring, chica!!!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 4:21 pm

    I am totally impressed with your consistent pace!! And I too would have slept super restlessly the night before, however, I also would have been FAST ASLEEP like you were in the car afterwards, LOL!!! I bet you’re still recouping right now! but YAY!!!!!!!! You’re DONE! 😀

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 4:23 pm

    Great job, Kat!! MCM was a great race and I am glad I did it. When’s the next race 😉

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 4:49 pm

    What a great accomplishment!!! The sweet isn’t as sweet without the sour. I know you are feeling good about what you’ve just completed. I hope to be as successful in my first marathon as you have been at MCM. Congrats on your achievement. =)

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 4:49 pm

    Very inspiring! Loved your re-cap. Congrats. I still my first one coming up (2.5 weeks to go). Getting more and more excited when seeing reports like yours. Thank you so much.

    • Reply
      October 30, 2013, 5:03 pm

      Thanks Chris – you’ve put in the training, you’ll do great!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 5:41 pm

    Wow, what an amazing accomplishment Katrina! You almost had me in tears with your finish line recounting with your husband. So sweet:)

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 5:47 pm

    Love your recap! I’m glad you were able to finish what you started. Thanks for inspiring all of us to dream big.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 6:09 pm

    I am SOOOO Proud of you!!! Congrats my friend! STRONG you are! Wow!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 6:27 pm

    Great recap! Super congrats on your first 26.2! Marine Corps was my first, too and there is no better place to conquer such an awesome goal! I love that you cried into your husbands shoulder from all the emotion. Seems like the perfect ending to a long journey! Can’t wait to see if you’ll tackle another one 🙂

    • Reply
      October 30, 2013, 7:57 pm

      You’re so fast Heather that’s for sure! 😉 Thanks so much!

    • Reply
      October 30, 2013, 7:58 pm

      Thanks so much Heather! Glad we both shared a first experience!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 7:00 pm

    This was so much fun to read and relive the course a year later. Those late miles starting with the bridge are SO hard! Huge congrats to you again for persevering and rocking your first marathon!

    • Reply
      October 30, 2013, 7:58 pm

      Thanks Marcia – I’m glad to know it wasn’t just me at those points!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 7:02 pm

    I’m SO SO proud of you! I loved reading your recap, especially the end. It made me tear up a bit. Running marathons is so hard. To finish them — no matter what the clock says — is a miracle. I hope we’ll get to celebrate in December when I’m in town for the holidays! xoxo

    • Reply
      October 30, 2013, 7:59 pm

      Yes girlie, I hope to see you again soon! Thank you a bunch! Your recap was good reading for me too btw

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 7:41 pm

    Congrats Kat, I’m SO proud of you!!! My first marathon was so long ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. I definitely went through a lot of ups and downs. I wanted to stop. I hurt. But I stuck it out. That journey made me realize that I am a whole lot stronger than I give myself credit for. I’m always reminded of this with every finish line I cross.

    • Reply
      October 30, 2013, 7:59 pm

      I felt that very way exactly! Thanks so much P, you getting faster and faster inspires me!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 7:44 pm

    LOL: Just like that, it was done! What a great race you ran! I have no plans to do the MCM, but since I live around here, I can understand the concern about the Rosslyn hills, the tedium of Hain’s Point, and the fortitude it takes to beat the bridge. Congrats, you did it all!

    • Reply
      October 30, 2013, 8:00 pm

      haha glad that a local can appreciate the honesty about those areas! Thanks Coco!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 8:10 pm

    I am with Carla – I never ever see myself doing a marathon to to see others accomplish so much – amazing!!! CONGRATS!!!!!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 10:33 pm

    Awesome, awesome job, Kat! So proud of you, especially when the going got tough. Glad to hear you’re well on the way to recovery … so when’s the next 26.2? 😉

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013, 11:24 pm

    I’m bawling reading this. SO Happy for you!! A huge congratulations on an incredible debut marathon! xoxo

  • Reply
    October 31, 2013, 12:04 am

    Wonderful post, I like the way you broke the race into parts. I don’t think I’ll EVER be feeling ‘warmed up’ at mile 6 though. Congratulations on becoming a marathoner!

  • Reply
    October 31, 2013, 12:27 am

    Congrats Kat! It wouldn’t be a journey if there weren’t highs and lows. You can now expect your perception of miles to be way off! After marathon training, I’ll never consider a long run anything less than 14 miles. Crazy but true!

  • Reply
    October 31, 2013, 1:53 am

    Congratualtions Kat. I am so proud of you.
    I must admit the Sarah and I were run tracking you and you finished just as we made it to the bridge, your update got sent to my phone. We were so proud of you and all you had accomplished. You ran a great race for your first marathon. Maybe someday you can help me pick up some speedy tips so I can get close to your time:)

    • Reply
      October 31, 2013, 11:33 am

      Aw I’m so proud you two stuck together on that “icky” bridge! Thank you!

  • Reply
    October 31, 2013, 3:24 pm

    KAT! I -finally- was able to sit down and savor this recap. I am so freaking proud of you and excited for you (and a bit jealous)! When’s the next marathon? Let’s do one together someday.

  • Reply
    October 31, 2013, 9:49 pm

    Eek!!!!!!!!!!!! Congrats on becoming a marathoner girl!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2013, 2:28 am

    Another huge congrats to you!! I must admit, I got emotional for you while reading your recap. I experienced a similar rush of emotion after my first half marathon, and quite honestly, your recap made me want to consider running a full myself! We’ll see, though 🙂

  • Reply
    November 1, 2013, 6:03 pm

    Crazy good run, Kat! I’m so proud of you and feel almost a bit like I just completed the marathon. (In a non creepy way though…) I’m happy you found a woman to pull you through tough spots when you needed it. And I’m also SO happy you got to see the hubster so many times! 🙂 I remember seeing wheelchair athletes going up the “Hills of Rosslyn,” too which was one of my first gut-check, put my big girl panties on moments. The MCM is such an amazing experience and I’m so glad that it was your “first.” There are so many, many more things I want to say but congratulations seems to sum it up perfectly.

  • Reply
    November 2, 2013, 1:31 am

    So awesome! Proud of you!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2013, 7:49 pm

    Awesome! Congrats!! I’m glad you had Mary there by your side, she really was your race angel. What an emotional race too, perfect for your first! I look forward to hearing about your future plans!!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2013, 9:52 pm

    Congratulations!!!! Welcome to the marathoner club 🙂

  • Reply
    November 11, 2013, 7:06 pm

    Congrats, lady! You’re officially a MARATHONER!

    I find running with people around mile 20-24 is hard as well. I get stuck in that dark place, too.

    YaY!! for finishing an awesome journey! Can’t wait to hear about your next one.

  • Reply
    July 25, 2017, 7:12 am

    Amazing marathon! 42.2 kilometers I would overcome only with a bicycle! Thx for review, Katrina!

  • Reply
    May 8, 2018, 3:15 am

    Pictures are fantastic! I like running and crossfit. But I’ve never tried a marathons:\ This summer i will definitely try!

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