Monday, October 26, 2009

Marine Corps Marathon-Part 2: The First Half of the Race

I LOVE the Georgetown portion of this race. The fans are so sweet providing all sorts of tasty treats and drinks. You can see my dilemma when having to decide between a bottle of champagne or my hawaiian themed water bottle.

Since I have a 100 miler next week, I elected to stick with water and gatorade, but it might have been more fun with a little bubbly!

Here is a cute dog along the course. He was really huge and very sweet. He was about 150 lbs and was supposed to be a great pyrenese and collie mix. There were many dogs along the course but naturally I am attracted to large doggies.

This dog was really soft and so sweet. During my petting session, he almost stepped on my toe but luckily he kind of ended up just leaning on me. I am not sure I would have been able to continue the race if he stepped on me because he was really big!

Here is Imelda and I with another cute dog along the course, the Georgetown Bulldog. He was really huge and very sweet as well.

We actually had two poses with this doggie, one just standing there, then we decided to strike a runners pose, which he was happy to do!


In the downtown Georgetown Area I was spotted by my friend John "the Penguin" Bingham. I have met him at numerous race EXPO's and saw him speak at the Fleet Feet pre-marathon event last year. He is a really nice person and so encouraging. I have read all of his books and think they really are very motivational regardless of ones skills or ability.

Tristan was along the course right before the Kennedy Performing Arts Center.

In his hand you can see the sign he was holding up for runners and in his other hand he had a cowbell. Of course this inspired me to yell "More Cowbell" as he jogged alongside us. You can't have too much cowbell in life.

It was nice to see Tristan along the course.

Marine Corps Marathon holds a special place in my heart. Every year my mom came out to cheer me on, it was my first marathon and it is just a beautiful course that showcases the monuments, statues and highlights of our nations capitol. I imagine I will run this race for many years to come.

Perhaps after Imelda's legs become painful she will be on board to make her yearly tradition and join me!

This year (as you might notice in my previous post). I decided to start a new tradition...wear an outfit. My ensemble consisted of a hawaiian lei, grass skirt, and flower pony tail holder. Even my new handheld water bottle was decked out in hawaiian gear. This was in fact a test run for my Javelina 100 costume because I am hoping to be a viable contestant for winning the costume contest. I am thinking with a few extra's that weren't a part of my MCM outfit/ensemble, I might be a contender for the female competition.

While slowly inching up to the start line I chatted with my friend Barry the juggler and we discussed upcoming events. He mentioned Harrisburg Marathon in 2 weeks is his next event. I confessed Javelina 100 was my next event next weekend. We will see each other at Richmond in 2 weeks then after Philly his running season is over until National (which we both will be running). I introduced him to Imelda and mentioned it was her first marathon. In fact when I chatted with most everyone I brought up Imelda because I wanted her to have all sorts of words of encouragement and positive "Juju" as my friend Lisa calls it.

After crossing the starting line (20 minutes after the first runners), it was time to start running. Unfortunately this race starts on an uphill. I kind of forgot about this (or else my sense of hills is all screwed up now). But we powered through them. As we jogged the first incline we ran into Peter W (Disney, JFK50 miler, Umstead 07, Reston Runner...). I had forgotten Peter knew Imelda from the year Imelda crewed with my sister Cindy that both Peter and I were running JFK50 miler. Peter was looking good and was running strongly. With Peters concurrence, Imelda was convinced we should walk all the hills. Slight inclines we would jog, but real hills I refused to run up as I have a big event coming up.

When not walking the massive hills in Rosslyn/Clarendon, we were jogging 10-11 minute miles (which was a bit fast), but I was comfortable and I could see Imelda was quite worried about making the bridge crossing. Also the crowds in Rosslyn really provided so much energy I did not want to be too cautious. All of the spectators were so encouraging and enthusiastic. Having done so many marathons, both small and large I think there are pro's and con's to both. But in large marathons, you cannot beat the energy and excitement provided by people lining the streets!

The first mile flew by and pretty soon we were climbing another hill. During this mile a very nice gentleman came up to us and interviewed us on his camera. I believe a youtube interview may be online at at some point. It was pretty cool to be interviewed and lots of fun to meet another runner who had a very similar attitude to running as I do--it's all about having fun and meeting people!

Continuing up the hill we arrived at our first water stop. Deciding to ensure I was properly hydrated I told Imelda I was going to get some gatorade. She also got a cup and we drank up. In fact at most aid stations we drank at least a cup or two of gatorade and every few aid stations we would refill our water bottles. This meant we kind of spent more times in bathrooms (and getting to bathrooms) than many other runners but on a positive note most of our pottie breaks were in real bathrooms with running water. I love real bathrooms and I think I have a convert who also likes real restroom:-)

As we crested this hill I told Imelda the majority of the hills were completed. We had one hill to get upto the Key Bridge and another hill to get to the resevoir, but the 2 mile long uphill was a thing of the past (well until next years race). Coming down Sprout Run Parkway I chatted about what to expect from the course and just really appreciated the view. The leaves are getting close to peak. The sun was shining brightly and it was a great day to be outside doing something with 30,000 of our closest running friends!

During this downhill Imelda and I were moving pretty quickly. As per my Garmin we ran a sub-10 minute mile. I was a little worried but figured Imelda was not having any trouble thus why fight gravity? We had a few other sections when we would move pretty quickly and I noticed Imelda would head out of any stops (bathroom breaks, water stops or stretch breaks) pretty quickly then slow down after a bit. I definitely think breaks early on give you lots of energy.

Running along the Potomac River was beautiful. This year the sky was bright blue and the reflections of the changing leaves were spectacular. Unlike last year when the river was covered in fog and we could only see the tops of the spires at Georgetown, this year we could see all of the buildings (although last years fog really made for an interesting and almost surreal view).

Heading up the hill to the Key Bridge both Imelda and I started getting warm, so it was time to jettison our layers. I was pretty happy about this because initially the forecast was a high of 62 which for me is long sleeve/long pants weather. But I think it was closer to 65 and thus comfortable running skirt and short sleeve weather.

Going across the bridge the view was really pretty. DC to the right, Georgetown to the left and runners all around. Immediately after crossing this bridge we headed right and faced other runners completing the "resevoir loop". In this section we saw many runners including quite a few we knew. My sister and her running friend Donna passed us about mile 6. Reston Runners: Anna, Tim, Ellen and others also passed by. A bunch of my marathon maniac friends passed and a few 50 staters were mixed in.

Running along we passed by the Georgetown University Band who were playing fight songs enthusiastically. And I even got a picture of myself with the Georgetown Mascot while Imelda ran on ahead.

Just past Georgetown University we continued along the canal and split off from the out and back and entered the loop. The C&O Canal is very pretty and this section is very flat. But alas during the first 8 miles of the course, there are a smattering of hills, so this flat section did not last too long. But this hill at the turnaround provided a much needed walk break. So we walked up it with purpose.

After reaching the top of the hill I mentioned to Imelda up ahead on the left there would be screwdrivers, mimosa's and bloody marys. Some of the runners behind us were excited to hear this but were incredulous and suggested they thought only mile 20 had adult beverages. I indicated that at least last year, there were folks out with very yummy drinks and treats and hoped this year they would continue this tradition. In just a few moments we arrived at the Georgetown "Rogue Aid Station". Imelda grabbed a Mimosa while I got a picture with me and a bottle of champagne. Life was good!

Everyone around us were in really good spirits. It was still early in the race, but it was a beautiful day and both runners and spectators were so encouraging. Heading past the resevior we started on the steep downhill. But there was a really cute large great pyrennes/collie mix dog. I needed to pet it. But Imelda realizing I am easily distracted moved along. Using gravity to my advantage I moved forward fast to catch up to her. This was about the 10th time in this race I had to catch up to her and throughout the day I would find friends all along the course. Thus for me it was a bit of a reunion run.

Getting close to Georgetown University I convinced Imelda we should get a picture of both of us with the Mascot, so we did. Then it was time to run up the hill to get into DC. I was glad to see Imelda was embracing the ultra creed of "walk the hills" so we did walk this section. Climbing the hill I was delighted to hear my name and realize it was John Bingham (of the John "The Penguin" Bingham fame). I got a picture with him and was flattered when he said he remembered me from last year and several other events. He is really sweet and such an inspiration!

I caught up to Imelda as we were starting to get into the shopping district of Georgetown. Because of all the gatorade and water we had been pounding down, I had to use the facilities. I asked Imelda if she had to go. We decided it was time for a bathroom break. The lines for the porta potties were insane. But I knew there are plenty of eating establishments and bars with real restrooms so I suggested we head to a bar or restuarant. We or I should say I decided I had a meal at Dean and DeLuca several times and recalled a bathroom. It was time to find this bathroom. Heading into the grocery store section we were sent to the back. What I had forgotten was that it was a single toilet bathroom in the far back of the store. Alas there was no line so we were in luck. Pretty soon we both were finished with this business and it was time to resume the race.

After just a short jaunt through large cheering crowds it was time to head into the heart of DC. A steep downhill and we were along the potomac river heading towards the Kennedy Performing Arts Center.

Imelda and I hear a male voice yelling "Go Tammy, Go Imelda". It is Tristan. He is holding up a sign that says "Run like a bear is chasing you". It has a pink bear so he is yelling "Run like a pink bear is chasing you". I made this sign several years ago for the Disney Marathon. So far I have not run like a pink bear is chasing me. Nor have I been chased by a pink bear.

Imelda takes a picture of Tristan together. While doing this a runner yells to Tristan "Give that girl a hug". I get a hug which is nice. I am not too sweaty. Which is nice for Tristan. Then we get a picture of Imelda, Tristan and I. Tristan then runs alongside the course for a bit with us. He runs past the Performing Arts Center which is about 400 meters. During this he is ringing a cowbell. Of course I have to yell "Give us more cowbell". What a classic phrase. I even show Tristan how you can really ramp up the cowbell but end up with ringing in my ears for a while after this.

After Tristan splits off I warn Imelda the race is about to take a turn for the worse because we are heading towards Haines point. I tell her in the old days this section was mile 17-20, but now it is mile 11-16. I mention it will be lonely and desolate but indicate it will not be as bad as the night she paced me at Umstead 100 miler when we might have seen 4 other folks during the 5 miles and 2+hours we were running in the rain at 2 a.m. Having this as our baseline I think makes this section less miserable.

Pretty soon we are approaching the halfway point. After a quick cup of gatorade and capping off our water bottles it is time to finish off this marathon. Our gun time is about 3 hours. Considering it took us about 20 minutes to get across the start, we guestimate our time is about 2 hours 45 minutes. We are right on target for a 5:30-5:40 marathon and have created a huge buffer for getting across the bridge. I am confident we will beat the bridge, but I am not sure Imelda believes me.


Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Did you get in a heavy petting session with that second dog, too?

Because I don't know how to break this to you, sister, but there was a dude in there.

Why do you think his leg was thumping so enthusiastically?

Also: That wasn't his leg ...

Runner Tammy said...

I did get a heavy petting session with all the dogs. That is why I am always smiling:-)

RuninDC said...

Thanks for an interesting mile-by-mile narration. I wished I had known about the mimosas -- would have made my day more fun.

BTW, I would like to include part of this post on


RuninDC said...

Hi Tammy,

Interesting read. Wish I had known about the mimosas--I had to wait until Mile 20 for beer.

BTW, would like to include parts of this post in my new blog: