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DC Marathon Race Recap 3/16/13

So it happened. The race that is. All 26.2 miles through Washington, DC on 3/16.  I learned a lot about my running style and made sure to note some things that didn’t go so well during the run but enough about that for the moment….it’s time to brag a little.  I qualified for Boston in  3:34!  So I qualified in my old age group and my new one!  My goal that day wasn’t to qualify for Boston. My plan was to run DC as a practice to find where I was weak and then spend the next few weeks working on improving. Then make the NJ marathon my qualifier. But as I neared the halfway point at 13 miles, I realized I was way under qualifying pace. So I went for it.

Here’s the details on what went right and what went wrong:

  1. The course: the course was hillier than I expected. Pretty sure the elevation map online was incorrect. I was anticipating agradual hill around mile 7 and was mentally prepared for it.  But that was actually a really steep hill and then there were like 14 more throughout the race.  In fact, the end ofthe race ended uphill. Lesson here – run more hills and stop whining.

    DC Elevation from my Garmin

    DC Elevation from my Garmin

  2. Hydration and fueling: I did a really bad job at this in DC. I brought withme 2 clif shot blocks and never took themout of my pocket. Instead, I took GU gels and ate 1/2 a packet twice.  I trained prior with the gels for other races, but only with the shot blocks for this one. So basically, I ran around carrying extra weight in my back pocket for no reason (and yes, by extra weight I mean like a half an ounce). As for water, I was a mess in this area too. I didn’t hydrate properly the first 13 miles which left me in a bind the second half of the race. I actually had to stop and walk the water stops after mile 18. I would grab 2-3 cups at a time and chug them. I need to really learn how to drink while running. A talent I’m so jealous others can do.
  3. Weather: turned out way better than expected. Just light rain and clouds, perfect 43 degree temps at the start. Couldn’t have asked for better conditions.
  4. Pacing: I was all over the place with my pace after mile 12. I attribute this to my lack of distance runs towards the end of training. I really wasn’t ready to run this marathon. I had only two 20 plus mile runs and had skipped the initial buildup in miles. A no-no for all you first time marathoners. Do as I say, not as I do. Physically, I don’t think I was in the best condition to be running my best but it was good enough. I kept calculating time and how much time I could slow down for so I could still BQ. And I took full advantage of those minutes in the last few miles as I shuffled through to thefinish.
  5. Tapering: I actually did this really well for once. I kept telling myself to trust the taper. I did. And thus, on race morning I felt relaxed, my legs felt energized, and no injuries on race day.  A few days prior to race day, my tendonitis flared up, but I took the time and rested and iced and was ready to go after that.
  6. Mental mind game: Here’s where I did everything terribly wrong. While I’m so happy I had a BQ and PR; I am not happy with my race physically and mentally. I kept trying to quite the entire race. I told myself to make it to the half marathon finish and get a medal at least. I could count that as a training run then. Then I told myself to make it to the next mile, and then if I made it to the next water stop I could stop, etc.  It was a mental nightmare. I didn’t feel strong. I felt defeated at mile 12. There came a point where I had to decide if I was going to miss the chance for a BQ when I was halfway there already. I pushed through. I wish I could say I found my strong and overcame hitting the wall.  But I was weak the entire end of the race. The last 6 miles felt like torture.

Overall, this was a great course and I’m so happy to have run it (except you Mr. Steepie Steep Hill). The race organizers did a great job and I want to give big thanks to the volunteers and supporters who came out that day. Without you guys, I wouldn’t have made it through.

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Filed under Lessons Learned, Races, Rules of the Road, Training

Racing Etiquette

I never seem to think about manners as it pertains to racing until the first few miles of a race.  Off days, practice runs, even group runs….the thought never crosses my mind.  It’s not until those first few miles of a race that I always think I need to write these rules down so that everyone knows what is appropriate and best for the racing field.  So here is my take on proper racing etiquette.

1. Don’t jump corrals.

Corrals are set up for a reason. They have a purpose. And you should be honest when submitting your anticipated finish time. By jumping corrals or putting a faster finish time than you can do; you are hurting those runners that worked hard to get into that corral. You will slow the race field down. The beginning of a race is crowded to begin with so it makes it more difficult to have to navigate around slower runners.

2. Don’t spit in the crowds.

Yes, I have felt spit on me on more than one occasion.  Despite what you think of your accuracy, there is always a wind or crowd factor. If you need to spit, move to the edge and spit on sidewalk and ensure no one else is coming up next to you.

3. Watch the elbows.

Why people run with really wide elbows I’ll never know. But they do. In that case, be cautious of the people around you. Don’t try to pass a herd of tightly packed runners with wide elbows. Yeah, it hurts to get hit in the chest with your bony elbow.

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