Monday, March 23, 2009

National Marathon Race Report 4 hours 52 minutes

By the capitol on the second go round! What you do not realize is in fact in this picture I am facing the wrong way for the race. But facing the other way, my face was in the shadow (and no one wants that right?)

With a cute puppy along columbia heights...getting roughed up a bit. The golden retriever puppy was very enthusiastic and jumped around alot. He was completely opposite Gilligan who would by lying by the side of the road upside down!

In the tunnel below the Mall . This was a really surreal experience (and for some reason I did not realize we were going through the tunnel, so unexpected as well). Luckily it was fairly well lit.

In front of the Washington National's Baseball park. I had no idea where the stadium was (although a few years ago during this marathon, we ran the other side during construction...I just did not realize it was right next to the river). I really like marathons because you can see all sorts of sights and at least for me I get to add to my "mental map" of the area.

Running along the Anacostia River about mile 20 of the marathon. This section was an out and back for about a mile or so. It was very pretty. I imagine if it was windy I would have hated it because it was really exposed. But luckily the weather was sunny and a bit cool.

The National Marathon was alot of fun! I saw many friends (Laurie F., Larry M., Dave B. Amanda P., Dan P., and others). I met many new friends (Narda, Ruth, Mark and others), and continued my tradition of having my friend John G. pick up my packet and drive me to the race. This year our carpool increased to include his wife Jenn and son Keller. It was great to catch up with both John & Jenn on the ride over. We talked about jobs, running, triathlons and life in general. They are a really nice couple and it was great to catch up!

My marathon day started by getting up at 4 a.m. (this is a good test run for Umstead 100 when I have to get up at the same time). I put on my clothing, making sure to glide all sensitive area's then slipped on my socks and shoes. Thanks to Drymax I no longer need a half bottle of glide on my feet (so they have really simplified my dressing process). But sadly I still am incompetent at getting in my contacts which took me 20 minutes!!! I need to practice getting my contacts in. However, in my defense because I have really bad astigmatism, my contacts have alot of body and are huge (my husband who wears contacts for nearsightedness one time saw my contacts and was shocked about how HUGE they are!), this makes it more complex to get them in. After this fiasco, all the rest of my preparations were pretty easy. And soon enough John & Jenn picked me up.

At the start of the marathon, I was lucky enough to run into my friend Lauri (who was going to run the Shamrock Marathon on Sunday). We caught up for a bit, then she actually started moving with the pack to the start line with ~8000 other runners. I did not. I waited until there were about 20-30 people left in the corrals then decided it was time to start the race. In fact, I started with the joggler, Barry G. (a fellow runner who has run National Marathon, Harrisburg Marathon, Frederick Marathon, Cherry Blossom 10 miler, Army 10 miler and many others at about the same pace as I). I never realized he was juggling 5 balls until this race (and that was only because I saw all 5 on the ground). Somehow I thought he was juggling 3 balls, which I already thought was amazing!

As I ran the marathon I appreciated all the monuments and neighborhoods we ran along. About mile 3 I met Narda who I ran about the first 11 miles of the marathon with. Narda is an experience triathlete who was running the marathon in honor of her mom whose birthday was this week. This marathon was Narda's first ever and was run in honor her mom who passed away from cancer. I know this made it poignant for Narda, but also made it really meaningful for me because it really shows how lucky I am to have my family. Narda was really good company and the miles just flew by!

The day started out cold, but it was sunny and never too windy, thus pleasant to run. Because we have had some warm snaps here in the mid-Atlantic there were even Cherry Blossom Tree's in bloom now and again along the course. There were also lots of daffodils, crocus and other early spring flowers out making the course even more beautiful.
The spectators along the course were awesome! Many neighborhoods had block parties going on to cheer on the runners and several groups provided treats and drinks to the runners. It was great fun.

The last part of the marathon goes along the Anacostia River. This area of DC has been revitalized recently. We ran alongside the Nationals Baseball stadium, along the Anacostia River and through Capitol Heights. This section was a vast improvement compared to the inaugural National Marathon course which went into Prince Georges County through some really seedy and hilly sections of the county. Through this section I saw many runners I knew including Amanda and Dan P. (from George Washington Birthday, B&A Trail Marathon), several Marathon Maniacs and a friend from the Gaithersburg Fleet Feet Running group Cynthia (who unbeknownst to me was running her first marathon and was being coached by Jenn G, part of my chauffer "team").

I ran the last several miles with Cynthia right behind me and with two new friends I meet about mile 20: Julie and Ruth. Julie was running her second marathon and Ruth was running her first marathon. It was awesome to run and finish with some friends who were so emotional at the end. I guess because this was my 49th marathon, I may not have as much passion and pride about my finish. But I can relate because I really get emotional during my 50 and 100 milers because in those events I have had to work really hard for my finish. Right before the finish line I saw my friend Dave B. I ran over to give him a hug and learned he was about to leave, thus caught up briefly. I also saw Jenn, but evidently she did not see me (since Cynthia was her student I think she was really focussed on Cynthia and her first marathon finish).

Closing in on the finish, I took a moment for a picture with the Washington Mystic Mascot then finally finished in 5:02 gun time. I knew I started about 10 minutes late, so I was really pleased with what I knew was a sub-5 hour finish.

After the finish I hung around the finish to cheer on all my friends who were completing the race. It was a beautiful day to spectate and cheer on 5-6 hour finishers. And of course I think it is harder for the slower runners who are plugging along, digging deep then the fast runners who are finished in 2, 3 or 4 hours. The pain, determination, pride and other emotions for these finishers were really inspiring!

Unfortunately, there were several negative aspects of this race. One negative about this race was the lack of cups for beverages from about mile 5 until mile 11. There were gallon jugs of water and powerade (for those of us in the ~5 hour marathon group). But no cups to drink from. I luckily carry my own water; however, about mile 11 I partook in simply drinking some powerade from a gallon jug.

Additionally at mile 8 and 18 the marathon runners were supposed to have food/gels provided. Again these items were not available for my pace group (~11 minute mile/5 hour marathon). I tend to eat marathon bars so I was not stressed about this lack of food/beverage but considering the time limit was 6 hours, this was completely inappropriate! I hope the race management either caps the event at fewer runners or else is better prepared for all the runners (including the slower runners) next year.


Just_because_today said...

seems like the new course is better than the one I ran the first year. You did great! Congratulations

Runner Tammy said...

Hi there,

The course is dramatically improved as compared to the first year! It winds through a bunch of different neighborhoods in DC.

And this years course did not have the last 13 miles in which you were going up or down hills in sketchy sections of Prince Georges County.

But the lack of water cups was reminiscent of some of the glitches in 2006.