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Marine Corps Marathon Recap!

The evening of the MCM I rode the metro down to Arlington to meet a few familiar faces: Jenni and Josh ran Ragnar DC 17′. Josh couldn’t believe I was still down with peanut butter and bananas (I think a lot of the vanmates were burnt out of pb&b after Ragnar weekend) but explained how my love of PB is as deep and wide as a river.

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I got to the hotel kinda late, so it was a quick lay out of a flat runner and nutrition for the AM and it was bedtime for all of us.

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Ragnar Van 2 Representing!

Just an FYI for future MCM runners- the Arlington cemetary Metro stop is a HIKE from the start line. We left with more than plenty of time, but with the poor funneling at the Metro’s exit and the long walk to the start & port-o-potty stop, I found myself running (yes, actually running) to try and get into my corral by the start. I made it just in time for the national anthem, to catch my breath, start my Garmin, and take off for the long run.

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Josh & Jen 

My goals for this race were kinda all over the place. I thought, if I had a decent day I could pull a 3:30 finishing time. So 3:30 or under was my A goal. To qualify for Boston again, would be an amazing feat! My B goal was 3:35. I didn’t have a C or worse goal. I felt like 3:35 was the B-C goal. Anything less than that would be something entirely out of my control.

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You will notice a lot/all of my race photos i have a worried look. I steered clear of the MCM marathon for a long time because a handful of people told me the course was super hilly at end and sometimes the weather didn’t cooperate and you could get a hot day. I was so stressed and anxious the first 10 miles of this race. I didn’t know if I was prepared, didn’t know if I would hit that dreaded “wall” didn’t know if it was too hot to run as fast as I was planning…

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The truth is, it was warmer than ideal. We started at 55 degrees and 88% humidity and I know most people finished the race in the mid-high 70s. But I kept reminding myself that I trained all summer in super humid conditions and the temps were lower than I was used to, so yay! a positive thought amongst all the stress! Haha. This marathon was much more of a mental feat than fast feet. <—see what I did there?

Okay so temps weren’t ideal, my ipod somehow turned itself onto “Shuffle” so my songs were doing their own thing. I tried to enjoy the “let’s see what plays next” mentality even though I stratigically place songs in a specific TYPE A order. AHH!HH!H!H!HH!HH!

Once the crowds thinned, I actually started enjoying running around DC. I kept my spirits up with the crowd support, it was incredible! Spectators must have been out because of the beautiful day, and for that, I was okay with the warmer temps. I also knew that somewhere in the crowd was my very best of all time support crew. Stephen and his daughter (we will call her Curly for now) were meeting to see me at mile 9 or 11, then again at 22. Knowing they were on the course for me was enough. I wanted to run well for them and I wanted to get to them as fast as possible because I knew Steve had a bottle of Tailwind ready for me. It would be my first time running with Tailwind which claims you don’t need gels or chews, just this drink. (I ate gels during my race until I got the Tailwind, just an FYI).

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When mile 11 came around I spotted the labeless bottle of Gatorade filled with Tailwind up in the sky. Steve was holding up the bottle above the crowd like the hammer of Thor! I spotted it easily and was SO EXCITED to stop and give a few sweaty hugs and kisses from my two favorite people and after he gave a few encouraging words, I was off again.

The fuel came in handy, Tailwind was a dream. I took small sips and held onto that bottle for about 10 miles until I finished it all. I was happy I didn’t have to stop at water stations and I felt incredible as I picked up the pace slowly through the 2nd half of the race.

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Once I was past mile 20, i knew there was no wall to crash into. A 10K is nothing after 20 miles. It was time to work and start pushing. Focus on the finish line, a cold beer and checking another race off your list. I spotted Steve and Curly one more time past mile 22, and then grabbed a small cup of beer from college kids shortly after. I’m telling you, grab beer in the end of a marathon. It’s liquid pain killer and carbs. I soooo needed that.

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The end of the race came quickly and I realized I was running where the port-o-pottys and corrals were earlier that morning, checked my watch and Dear God, I literally ran .7 tenths of a mile before the start! OH and the finish is on a bit of an uphill… but the elevation for the course is a joke. If you think Marine Corps is hilly please start running hills more often.

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574 total ft of elevation. 

By the time I hit that hill and crossed the finish line, I was ECSTATIC! My 2nd time qualifing for Boston, 2nd fastest marathon time and a negative split! 3:25:19

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the finish!

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With all that said, this is probably my favorite marathon to date. Reasons being:

  • Spectator support: There was hardly a single moment without people lining the course. Feeding off the crowd was key to my success that day.
  • Stephen and Curly. He has supported my fitness and running goals since the day I met him. Having an active crew on race day was so special. They both lit a fire in my heart that day.
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Curly liked the medal bc it opened and closed

  • The Blue Mile. I’ll never forget running a full mile where pictures of fallen service men and women lined both sides of the course. It’s amazing how long a mile feels when you see that many pictures of men, women and families. The volunteers held American flags at the end, creating a red, white and blue tunnel for the runners and thanked us as we ran by. All I could do was hold a hand over my heart and thank them. It was an emotional mile and hard not to get choked up.
  • I broke into the top 100 female finishers. Another thing I didn’t expect, but secretly wanted to happen one day.
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  • I was craving fried pickles after the race and Steve was down for Buffalo Wild Wings. Yep, one of my favorite post-race meals. Fried pickles and wings.

What’s your favorite marathon to date?

Do you prefer hilly or flat courses?


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Philadelphia, You Sexy Beast.

Sorry about the delay, I finally sat down to write the recap!  I usually have tons of immediate thoughts about what went right, what went wrong, what i could have done different. But it happened, I had the perfect race. I guess I can Tarantino this race recap since most of you already know the result. 3:20:59. I’m a 3:20 marathoner and qualified for Boston!

This smile sums it up: i’ve been extremely content and overwhelmingly happy with the outcome.

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First beer post race

The week of the race was littered with ups and downs. The weather wasn’t looking favorable and Cameron got sick, so i was afraid I was catching his cold. My diet the week of the race consisted of carbs, water, nuun, zicam, vitamin c, and a few nights of 9+ hrs of sleep.

I had a few pep talks from clients and friends when the forecasted wind started stressing me out. Basically, I was ready to trash my goals for a sub 3:30 marathon because of the wind, but was quickly reminded that I trained super hard for this race, i’ve ran in crappy conditions all year and I could do this if I raced smart. Saturday came and I was feeling confident and ready to run.

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My bib number was perfect: 2600. I know it’s a little superstitious, but the bib from the Parks Half Marathon I did in September was 2612 and i’ve had good vibes about 26 this entire training cycle. This was the first time running a marathon that the miles didn’t scare me. I was prepped and ready to run 26.2 miles, I was only nervous about the weather.

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relaxing in the Sonesta hotel

We went out for pasta and the rest of the night was spent finalizing my playlist, hydrating & eating, charging electronics, choosing what to wear for the windy morning, and coming up with a game plan for the windy race.

The plan was to go out slower than goal pace for the first 10 miles in order to conserve energy that might be wasted against headwind. I kept telling myself that the Hansons Brooks Method I used, trained me for the back half of the race, not the beginning. The book said the first 10-16 miles should feel good. And that was my plan. Make sure the first 16 feel good and comfortable while staying close to goal pace. Then i could reassess and start speeding up. According to the weather and the course map, the wind was blowing from the west, and the last 6 miles were heading back to Philly, eastward. At mile 20, cross your fingers, pray for a tailwind and if worse comes to worse, you made it to 20 miles you push as hard as you can and don’t stop.

Game plan in place.

The next morning came quickly, but i felt good. I was prepared to do my best, I trusted the training and my race plan. Our hotel (the Sonesta) had shuttle service to the start, which was pleasant. It was cold out, but not awful. I used the bathroom, got right back in line and used it again 20 minutes later–best advice for a marathon, don’t wait until you have to go to the bathroom, just get in line cause you will.

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I headed to the start corrals, focused on positive thoughts, my breathing, making sure shoelaces were double knotted and comfortable, Garmin was on, and the sunrise… it was pink and orange and beautiful.

Then we started. My playlist began and I settled easily into an 8:00ish/pace. As usual during a big race there was crowding in the early miles and i wasn’t about to fight it and waste energy. I settled right behind the 3:35 pace group and stayed there for 4 miles.

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I get asked often what I listen to while running, so here’s the start of playlist “26.2”

My ipod was playing super relaxing music, just what i wanted to keep my breathing normal and pace slow. This was probably the first time during a goal race I wasn’t feeling any pressure or anxiety while running. My inner dialogue was a lot of: “this feels too easy. Good, it’s supposed to feel easy, it’s only mile 5.” I kept holding myself back doing anything stupid so early on.

 

For the most part, I didn’t notice the wind, but was happy i was wearing gloves, a headband and sunglasses! We had one major gust here and there, but not enough to where I felt like it was affecting me. At one point there was a gust for a few seconds that caused me a guy running beside me to look away, shield our faces and cringe a little. When it stopped we both looked at each other and laughed. I feel like that dude was having a good day too.

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Laughing into the wind, I started thinking about when to run faster. I was approaching mile 10 and finally had some elbow room as the crowds thinned out. I could see my paces getting slightly faster and I was feeling better with each mile, stronger with each step. I bartered with myself a bit. Make it to the halfway mark, see how you feel and we can start slowly getting into a faster pace.

Mile 13 came quickly, I felt better than alright, it was the easiest 13 miles i’ve ever run in my life. Alright halfway time to work a little and see where we’re at come mile 16. I have the legs under me and the workouts behind that supports a hard 10 mile effort. Come on 16…

“I wonder if I can go to Crossfit on Tuesday…” <—Literally what was on my mind right before mile 16 beeped at me. “Okay, now this is too easy. I have a BQ as long as I don’t do anything stupid. I have 4 miles until the turn around point where the wind should be at my back. Four miles to speed up and deal with wind and hills and then I get pushed home. I’ll let my legs fly at 20. Just get there first.”

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Mile 20? 7:30? Alright it’s time for the legs to show off. And like that. I switched gears and started hauling forward. I was hyper alert and aware of my body and knew I had a 4th and 5th and 6th gear to shift into.  When 20 came I was actually excited to see how fast I could run after holding back, saving energy and being smart. I wasn’t going to hit a wall. I wasn’t going to be disappointed. Even knowing I had a Boston Qualifying time, my mentality shifted to, “let’s see how much time I can go under.”

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I flew. I did not have one person pass me the last 10k. I had a smile on here and there and was constantly reminding myself to be grateful of this body. I realized that all the hard workouts…all the tempos in humidity, the mile repeats on hills, all the Crossfit Wods where I thought my heart would surely explode, were exactly why I had the power and mental stamina to not just muddle my way through 26.2 miles, but to own them. This was my workout of the day and I killed it.

I was powering through the last mile and started getting a cramp in my left foot. At this point I was ready to be finished, but I didn’t see signs of how far left I had. I knew I was close and this is where the tunnel vision set in. One foot in front of the other, throw your arms forward and get across the line. In my left ear I heard Cameron shout my name, in my right ear I heard the loud speaker say “Cori Maley, Silver Spring” and I didn’t realize where I was. In an instant I saw a time clock, a banner and my foot go over the first timing mat.

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I took a huge breath in, and let it out in a cry. A tidal wave of relief, happiness and pride overcame me. I was proud of myself. Proud.

I found Cameron, hugged him over the metal barricade still sobbing. I was so happy it hurt. He told me my time of 3:20:59… 30 minutes faster than my last, and 15 minutes faster than the Boston Qualifying time I needed.

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I have a pretzel in my mouth which is why my cheeks are super big! haha

This won’t be the last I talk about Philly. I have a thousand more thoughts on this race. For now i’ve been happy and content and enjoying the moment. Hang tight, tips for running your best marathon are going to be up soon!

Last Week

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Crossfit, 5m easy 9:15/pace

Wednesday: 6m whatever I felt like 7:38/pace

Thursday: Crossfit, 5m easy 8:10/pace

Friday: 1.5hr barbell skill work 

Saturday: 10m easy 8:35/pace, 40 minutes lower body (PR’d deadlift 2 x 1 @ 195lbs)

Sunday: 5.5m trail running 9:41/pace

Total Miles: 31.5

Anyone running a December race?

How much time do you take off after a race?